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Seoul taxi fare to rise by Oct.

Seoul City’s cab fare is expected to increase by no later than October, as the city moves to help improve the taxi business despite lingering public concern over the heightened transportation cost and poor taxi service.

The basic fare, which had remained unchanged since 2009, is expected to rise from the current 2,400 won ($2.14) to around 2,800 or 3,000 won. The city said negotiations over the fare increase are underway with the taxi union.

Meanwhile, the labor and management representatives of taxi companies on Thursday agreed on raising the monthly wage of hired cab drivers by 230,000 won. The wage increase of corporate taxis is a core determinant of the transport cost.

The city transportation chief Yun Jun-Byeong also said in a radio show earlier this week that the cab fare increase was inevitable due to the rise of gasoline prices and to improve drivers’ work conditions.

Along with the basic fare rise, the city proposed pushing forward by one hour the nighttime operation when a 20 percent surcharge is applied. Currently the four-hour nighttime fare begins at 12 a.m. The city said the change in the hours will help improve the taxi service for commuters having difficulty catching a cab at later hours. The nighttime surcharge was introduced in 1982 to promote late-night operation of taxi drivers following rising demand.

While civic groups agreed on the need for a hike in basic cab fares, they also expressed caution over the efficiency of some of the plans to improve the cab service.

“The night fare policy was originally pushed to influence drivers to work at night. Yet, the supply still fails to meet the high demand, which means that the policy is not as effective,” Green Consumer Network co-chairwoman Cho Yoon-mi said. Cho suggested balancing out business intervals among taxi companies or encouraging private taxi owners to work at night.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (
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Korea Herald daum