Int’l taxi drivers caught overcharging foreigners

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Int’l taxi drivers caught overcharging foreigners

The Seoul city government said yesterday that 52 taxi drivers who were caught overcharging foreign tourists will be stripped of their status as international taxis.

The announcement came after those taxis, which primarily serve foreign tourists and have interpretation services, were alleged to have imposed a 20 percent surcharge on foreign passengers on top of a fee for foreign-language services.

Drivers are only supposed to impose a 20 percent surcharge on metered fares when passengers travel between Seoul and surrounding cities in Gyeonggi.

Drivers began installing a new meter system in October after the Seoul government raised the base fare for city cabs. The new surcharge policy for those traveling between other regions also went into effect.

“With the installation of the new meter, some tourist taxi drivers have used it to their advantage,” said Jeong Yong-woo, an official from the Seoul government.

The taxis, officially known as Seoul International Taxi, are orange in color with a black label that designates them as international cabs.

A regular international taxi fare starts at 3,600 won ($3.40) - higher than the regular 3,000 won - and increases by 120 won every 142 meters (465 feet). The international taxis offer language services in Japanese, Chinese and English and are often equipped with tourist information.

A total of 371 such cabs operate in Seoul, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

The taxi drivers will no longer be permitted to drive international taxis, though they will be allowed to run regular cabs.

“All of the drivers took foreign-language exams before driving the international taxis, but they will no longer be able to operate the taxis,” Jeong said.

According to the city government, the drivers will undergo a 40-hour training session as part of the corrective measures. To prevent scams against tourists, Seoul said it plans to establish a system that will automatically be able to detect inaccurate charges.

He vowed that regulations on taxis would be stepped up overall.


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