No more quick fixes for taxi shortages

Home > Opinion > Editorials

print dictionary print

No more quick fixes for taxi shortages

Finding a taxi after 10 p.m. in the capital region has become a mission impossible. Social media is full of the vexing overnight experiences of having had to wait two hours to grab a taxi home or paying four times the original fare, or having had to find a motel room upon failure to find a taxi or a designated driver to go home.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport has come to intervene. The ministry reported to the president last week of its plan to allowing flexible rate charging for app-based hailed cabs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to help ease the critical late-night cab shortages. It is also mulling to scrap the three-shift system for private taxi drivers to increase supplies.

Cabs fell short soon after the lifting of the social distancing curfew in mid-April. Dinner and drink appointments renewed after the business restrictions were lifted. But taxis have been in short supply even during the daytime.

A solution should be approached differently if it is addressed as a structural problem, not a temporary fallout from the Covid-19 aftermath. The government is considering the idea of banning taxi drivers from rejecting calls for short distances, as they prefer long-distance customers. But experts say such a measure cannot solve a structural problem, as drivers can turn off the app-hailing service and pick up customers as they did before.

The shortfall in cabs stems from a chronic lack of drivers and aging of drivers. According to the transport ministry, licensed cab drivers in their 50s who took up the largest share decreased to 63,221 in 2021 from 101,055 in 2017, down 37.4 percent. In the meantime, drivers in their 70s or older increased to 37.337 from 24,168 during the same period, or a whopping 54.5 percent. Aged drivers are not willing to drive at nighttime, which helps worsen the situation. An increasing number of cab drivers are also choosing to deliver food or cargo for gig jobs, which also make it difficult for passengers to take a taxi.

A fundamental solution is system change. The ministry must end the age-old mandatory shift system for private cab drivers and allow higher call fees during peak times to enable more taxies to drive in high demand periods. The government must also consider allowing new mobility such as van-hailing service Tada to allow wider choices for consumers. The taxi crisis is just another example of consumer inconvenience which is caused when innovation is stopped from opposition from the establishment.
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)