| Basic taxi fare in Seoul will be raised to 3,000 won (2.79 U.S. dollars) starting 4 a.m. October 12 from the current 2,400 won (2.23 dollars), the first hike since June 2009. The extra charge fee for passengers traveling between Seoul and its surrounding cities will also be reintroduced.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government announced Wednesday comprehensive measures to innovate Seoul`s taxi service. Fee per distance will be raised from 100 won (9 cents) per 142 meters from the current 100 won per 144 meters. The existing late night surcharge hours -- from midnight to 4 a.m. -- will be maintained.
The average overall hike is 10.9 percent given people`s average travel distance (6 kilometers). Yet people living in the Seoul metropolitan areas of Ilsan and Bundang who commute to Seoul are likely to feel more burden than those living within Seoul.
The Seoul city government also announced plans to improve compensation for taxi drivers and eradicate refusal of passengers so that fare hike actually leads to improvement of tax service. Drivers of corporate-owned taxis are tempted for foul driving including passenger refusal and speeding since the company require drivers to turn over certain amount out of their daily earnings and deducts the unmet amount from their salary. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said, "Fee hike was inevitable because compensation for drivers had to be guaranteed to enhance taxi service," adding, "The taxi industry should also reflect on themselves and enhance service for a comfortable travel."
To solve the problem of passenger refusal that take up 39.4 percent of all civil complaints against taxi service, the city will allow people report with the last four numbers of a license plate, from the current reporting of all car numbers (Seoul ○○ Ga ○○○○). Drivers refusing to take passengers will be subject to pay 200,000 won (18.61 dollars) in penalty and up to 40 hours of law-abiding and kindness education. Those failing to finish the education course will be banned from re-work and re-employment. The city will strengthen crackdown on places with frequent passenger refusals including areas of Gangnam, Hong Ik University and Jongno. It will also increase the number of late-night buses to ease imbalance of supply and demand.
Smoking within taxi will be banned for both drivers and passengers. Drivers can`t smoke even if there is no passenger. To protect both drivers and passengers, a surveillance camera will be installed within taxis and a partition will be set up between the driver`s seat and back seat, both of which will be implemented by the year-end. To reduce the so-called "bullet taxis," the city government is also examining introducing a warning alarm system when maximum driving speed exceeds 120 kilometers per hour.