A citizen is riding a taxi near Dongdaemun Design Plaza.  (Maekyung DB)
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Seoul City to review taxi late-night surcharge ‘from 10pm’… Will it be easier to catch a taxi at night?

A citizen is riding a taxi near Dongdaemun Design Plaza. (Maekyung DB)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is reviewing a plan to extend the late-night surcharge time zone for taxis. After social distancing was completely lifted, it became difficult to catch a taxi in the city center at night.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on the 26th, the city is internally discussing a plan to advance the taxi late-night surcharge period, which corresponds to the current 12 pm to 4 am, to 10 pm. If the time period for which the late-night surcharge is applied is delayed by two hours, passengers who used the taxi between 10:00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m. will have to pay a higher fare than before. Currently, the basic fare for taxis in Seoul is 3,800 won for 2 km, and the late-night surcharge is 4,600 won.

The extension of the late-night surcharge has been requested by the taxi industry for a long time, but it has not been achieved. This is because there was a backlash that the ‘extension of the late-night surcharge time’ was ultimately no different from the rate hike plan. Even at the time of the taxi base rate increase in 2019, the taxi industry pushed for a plan to advance the time period for applying the late-night surcharge by one hour to 11 p.m., but the Seoul City Council rejected it on the grounds that “the burden on citizens would be excessive”.

However, this time, citizens are complaining of inconvenience, but there is no proper way to increase the number of taxis operated, so the extension plan is being actively promoted than before. This is because it is an inducement to increase the nighttime operation of taxi drivers after 10 pm. Earlier, in order to respond to the taxi crisis, the Seoul Metropolitan Government temporarily lifted the three-part private taxi system (operating on two days, closed on one day) late at night (9:00 pm to 4:00 am) to encourage private taxi operators to operate at night, but the participation rate was only 10%. The fact that it was limited to the degree is also considered to be a factor in fiddling with the extension card.

Since taxi fares are closely related to the cost of living by citizens, various procedures such as public hearings, opinions of the city council, the price policy deliberation committee, and taxi policy committee deliberation are required. Therefore, it takes several months longer to make a final decision. Moreover, the prevailing opinion is that it is difficult to adjust taxi fares right away as the cost of living soars due to various external factors. Full-scale discussions are expected to take place after the local elections.

An official from Seoul City said in an interview with Yonhap News, “Taxi fare-related policies, including adjustment of late-night surcharges, are still in the working-level review stage.

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