SEOUL (KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Seoul metropolitan government said on Friday (Nov 16) that it is reviewing to introduce new taxi services for pets and women, amid rising conflict between taxi drivers and carpooling services.
According to an official from the city government, Seoul is looking to introduce new services targeting different passenger needs, such as taxis for pet owners, women and senior citizens by launching taxi transport franchises.
Receiving protests from corporate and private taxi drivers for allowing carpooling services, the city government said it was looking to find ways to diversify the services the taxi industry can offer.
The city can approve new taxi transport franchises when over 4,000 corporate and private taxi drivers register to operate. Once approved, the members of the franchise can charge extra costs and provide additional services such as driving for those with pets.
"Taxi corporations in Seoul are preparing to launch the franchise services. When they gather more than 4,500 taxi drivers for the business, we will review their detailed business plans and issue permits," an official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government said. The city is also considering whether to set limits on the taxi fares.
The city's move comes amid conflict over carpooling services.
South Korea's taxi industry is regulated by the Passenger Transport Service Act, which bans the use of private, unlicensed vehicles for commercial purposes.
But the law was revised to allow exceptions during "commuting hours" and different carpooling application services, including Kakao Mobility by the mobile messaging giant Kakao, are in operation. There were also private vehicles operating for pet owners, charging a higher minimum fare ranging from 8,000 won (S$9.80) to 12,000 won.
Taxi unions have announced they will hold a protest against carpooling service applications in front of the National Assembly on Nov 22.