Seoul’s taxis to cost \600 more

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Seoul’s taxis to cost \600 more

The flag-fall for taxis in Seoul will be increased to 3,000 won ($2.80) from the current 2,400 won starting 4 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, the first hike in four years.

Van taxis and black taxis will see their flag-falls jump 500 won to 5,000 won, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced yesterday.

The city’s cab drivers have been calling for higher wages for years. The city government said that the new fare structure is expected to increase their average monthly salary by up to 240,000 won. The average monthly wage for cabbies is now 1.87 million won.

On top of the flag-fall increase, there will be a new 20 percent surcharge for passengers traveling between Seoul and surrounding cities. That is intended to encourage taxi drivers to accept passengers headed to far-away destinations.

The city government also considered changing the starting time for night fares to 11 p.m. from 12 a.m., but it decided to maintain the current time range of midnight to 4 a.m.

An extra fee charged for call taxis between midnight and 4 a.m. will rise to 2,000 won from 1,000 won.

Mayor Park Won-soon defended the measures as necessary to help drivers, who have lost ground economically since the last fare hike in 2009 because of higher fuel prices and the current economic downturn.

“The taxi service industry is fraught with discontent from both drivers and passengers,” the mayor said. “The first step to solving the problem is to improve payment conditions so that cab drivers have the incentive to offer better service to taxi passengers.”

The mayor pointed out that other local governments increased taxi fares earlier this year. Starting with the Busan government in January, major metropolitan cities including Daegu, Gwangju and Daejeon have increased basic fares by 600 won, or from 2,200 won to 2,800 won.

Seoul also announced a series of measures designed to help passengers. Two of the biggest frustrations for cab passengers are taxi drivers who demand extra payments late at night or decline passengers after hearing where they want to go.

The municipal government said such drivers can now face 200,000 won in fines and will be forced to attend driving classes for up to 40 hours.

The police will also dispatch more forces in downtown areas such as Gangnam in southern Seoul, the Hongik University neighborhood in western Seoul and Jongno in central Seoul, where many people compete for taxis at night, encouraging drivers to turn down fares they don’t want to take.

The reporting of taxis who refuse fares or ask for extra fees will also be easier as the city government now only requires four numbers from the license plate. To make a complaint in the past, you had to provide the numbers as well as the geographical label and letter before them.

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