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Declining Number of Passengers Prompts Deluxe Taxi Conversions

Declining Number of Passengers Prompts Deluxe Taxi Conversions

Posted July. 01, 2005 05:54,   


Until a couple of years ago, a taxi driver A was dreaming of obtaining an owner-taxi license. However, he is currently thinking of changing his job to a bus driver. The monthly income of a taxi driver is 1.3 million won at most, but for a bus driver, the fixed wage is as much as 2.6 million won.

An office worker, Hong Jong-won (37) abandoned his habit of taking a taxi unconditionally whenever he has a drinking party. Now he drives his own car even when he should drink. It is because the fare of using a driving agency is less expensive than that of taking a taxi late at night.

As of July 1, it has been a month since the taxi fare has gone up by 17.52 percent. Taxi drivers look gloomy saying they are having less customers than before. The number of citizens using driving agencies is increasing.

Recently, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the average monthly income of a general taxi driver ranges from 900,000 won to 1.3 million won, while that of an owner-driver taxi ranges about from 1.5 million won to 2.2 million won. Taxi drivers insist that their monthly income has remained similar or rather reduced by 10-20 percent, even though the taxi fare has increased.

Taxi Drivers Shift from Driving Deluxe Taxis to General Taxis-

A deluxe taxi which came out in December, 1992 was the object of preference. However, with the number of taxi users plunging, the cases of returning from driving a deluxe taxi to driving a general taxi are going up. The Seoul Metropolitan Government has converted 200 out of 603 deluxe taxi drivers who requested conversion to a general taxi as they wanted. This figure is about 5.5 percent of all 3,600 taxies.

Last year, the number of application cases which requested conversion to a general taxi was not great, so no cases of conversion were reported. However, this year, the number was so many that the local government plans to convert once more as requested.

A deluxe taxi driver, Yun Jong-woo, said that “eighteen hours of driving a day doesn’t even lead to 50,000 won a day which I can bring home. More and more deluxe taxi drivers around me are converting to a general taxi, maybe because they cannot even lead a basic life driving a deluxe taxi.

A person concerned with a driving agency in Seoul said that the number of drunken customers who call a driving agency rather than take a taxi jumped after the announcement that the taxi fare was reduced to 1,000 won per km. Using a driving agency late at night costs 10-20 percent less than taking a general taxi.

Customers Dwindling, Taxis Mushrooming-

The number of taxis in Seoul has increased from 70,000 in 2002 to 72,000 in 2005. But, according to a report submitted by the Korea Transport Institute to the National Assembly, the taxi transport share fell from 10.4 percent in 1996 to 7.4 percent in 2002, and the number of passengers from 2,890,000 to 2,200,000, respectively.

Tae-Hun Hwang Soo-Jung Shin beetlez@donga.com crystal@donga.com