The Seoul taxis, again, are threatening to go on strike because of the veto of a transportation bill by the president. The bill intended to deem taxis a means of public transportation.
I have the pleasure to ride in a taxi, at least, twice a day. This allows me to discuss the plight of taxi drivers with the drivers. I have talked to dozens of drivers about the issues affecting their livelihood and most see their future not in the taxi business, because of the high price of fuel and increased competition. However, most believe they have few other options.
The majority of taxi drivers, I have spoken to, drive 12 hour shifts six days per week.
Most drivers are struggling. Think about this. An hour ride to the airport will cost you around KRW 50,000 from my door in Hannam Dong to Incheon airport. This is thought of as a great fare, because of the lower cost of fuel and more efficient use of the vehicles time, because of the lack of need to pick up more passengers. However, the driver risks not obtaining a passenger for the ride back to Seoul.
Most drivers claim that expenses account for 60% of the fare. Thus, they bring home around KRW 20,000 for the ride according to the drivers. Seems to low to me. I always give a tip and, these days, it is greatly appreciated.
The largest expense drivers have is fuel. The best solution seems to be to cut the fuel tax for tax drivers. What is the big deal? Cut the tax.
I suggest cutting the tax, however, only in exchange for an enforceable passengers bill of rights that includes a driver being required to pick up all passengers - yes - even at night.
Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com.
Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team at IPG Legal.
He is the only non-Korean to have worked as an attorney for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.