ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on January 23rd, 2013 at 2:04 am

Lee Myung-bak Rejects Taxi Subsidies

It seems to me that giving out subsidies to the taxi companies would discourage people from using the mass transit system that is already subsidized by the government:

President Lee Myung-bak rejected a parliament-approved bill that would provide state subsidies to the taxi industry, his spokesman said, a veto that could be overruled by the National Assembly despite criticism that the legislation is an extravagant, populist measure.

Lee signed a Cabinet motion urging the parliament to reconsider the bill that calls for including taxis as mass transportation, along with buses, subways and trains, making the industry eligible for government subsidies and other benefits.

“We cannot do something that does not conform to the international standards and is unprecedented in other countries,” Lee said, according to presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha. “There are many ways to normalize the taxi (industry). It is desirable (for us) to take the right path for the next government, too.”

It was the first time Lee has vetoed a parliament-approved bill since taking office in 2008.

Taxi drivers have threatened a general strike if Lee exercises a veto. Leaders of four major taxi lobbies were to hold a meeting later in the day to discuss whether and when to call a walkout.  [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link, but we have discussed this issue a few months ago when the cab drivers threatened to go on strike then.  I am not sure how much a local cab driver makes, but their take home pay is probably comparable to what cab drivers working on USFK bases made when they went on strike.  The on-post cab drivers were making $1,259 to $1,363 a month when they went on strike in 2006. A big difference for the on-post cab drivers though is that they make much more money on tips compared to local cab drivers.  So I can sympathize with the fact that the cab drivers are not making much money and this is usually why I always tip the cab driver unless it is one of the sharks that try to rip me off in the Uijongbu and Dongducheon areas.

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  • 2ID Doc
    3:34 am on January 23rd, 2013 1

    I don’t know about now, but in the 80s it was easier to haggle with a Korean Cabbie than to deal with the AAFES cabs. They too busy ferrying the wives of GIs from the Commissary to their off post housing. I suspect those tips weren’t cash…I always tipped the Korean cabbies well, unless I knew they were trying to raise the prices.

  • Teadrinker
    4:10 am on January 23rd, 2013 2

    If they aren’t making enough money, they should push for an increase in fares. Subsidies? I will be opposed to any such demands made on their part out of principle. You see, years ago the taxi drivers’ union was demanding subsidies when the government wanted to make it obligatory to drive with the headlights at all time of day. Why? Brace yourselves…They claimed their car batteries would run out faster. Sadly, enough people bought the BS so that the law was never passed.

  • taxi rdu
    7:18 am on January 23rd, 2013 3

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  • Graeme Jelly
    1:42 am on January 24th, 2013 4

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  • Sturgee
    6:08 pm on January 24th, 2013 5

    I hope they do go on strike. When they had a 24 hour strike to protest fuel costs a little while back, traffic was amazing. According to Mrs. Sturgee, there were tons of comments on Korean bulletin boards and blogs praising how good the traffic was when the cabbies were gone for a day.

    Raise the fares a bit to get these guys better compensation, and then reduce the numbers of cabs on the road (especially during the daytime hours when there are other mass transit options available).

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    7:41 pm on January 24th, 2013 6

    The sad thing is, it looks like the national assembly with their free-wheeling welfare giveaway attitudes of late, is planning to override the presidential veto and pass this thing anyway. I heard one of the main complaints from the taxi drivers is that they lose money on t-money and credit card transactions on fares of less than W3,000. My answer to that is – okay, charge more for the convenience of using your t-money or your credit card. If it isn’t a ‘hidden charge’, then I have no problem paying more for that convenience if I know up-front that it will be assessed. It then becomes the consumer’s choice – bring cash, or pay a ‘convenience fee’ if they want to pay by credit card or t-money. I don’t think anybody wants these taxi drivers to lose money on their operation, but the fix is not a subsidy. All of these ‘temporary’ subsidies become anything but. Once people get used to that money rolling-in, it’s more or less there to stay. Just ask the US farmers, oil companies, etc. etc…

  • Baek In-je
    12:01 am on January 25th, 2013 7

    You pay a subsidy everytime a taxi driver goes out of the way to get to your destination, slows down to miss the light, gets into the wrong lane and takes terrible routes to get you where you want to be.

    Worst ever taxi ride I took was from itaewon to where i used to live in shinchon. Now, anytime the taxi driver speaks english, you are going to get screwed. so the guy starts driving from itaewon to shinchon, which if you know it, it is just a straight line for about 4 miles. it should have been W4000 (this was a few years ago).

    He gets to samgakji and asks me if he can take a short cut. i said ok. he turns left at samgakji intersection, drives down to the river, take the expressway to mapo, hooks a right, gets back onto the same street, and drives me to shinchon.

    My mouth was open in surprise the whole way.

    it was about W15,000.

    I had him drive me to the police box near my house and got out. i told him to park the taxi and come inside to tell them the route he took back to my apartment. the look on his face was classic. he was completely screwed and he knew it. i didnt go inside; i just waited by the front door of the police box and stared at him. he stayed there about 10 minutes, i guess hoping that i would leave so he could try to get him money from me. Finally he left. That was my free ride story.


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