Hike likely to surpass 30 percent; Seoul taxis’ minimum charge may exceed 3,000 won
Policymakers hinted that the nation’s cab and inter-city bus minimum fares will rise by up to 33.3 percent alongside the general increase in food and energy prices. Express train and subway charges will remain the same.
Government sources said on Sunday that the nationwide minimum taxi charges, which currently range from 2,200 won ($1.94) to 2,400 won, could possibly pass the 3,000 won mark after the upcoming price change.
The minimum taxi fare will rise sometime between the second half of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. These charges are raised once every three years, with the previous charge increase having taken place between 2008 and 2009.
The movement comes after the nation’s cab companies and self-employed taxi drivers went on a nationwide strike, claiming an “unreasonably low taxi fare system” was causing financial difficulties.
“The minimum cab charges have been fixed for the past three years, while the price of liquefied petroleum gas has shot up over 50 percent along with an increase in overall prices,” a government official said.
“The gas fee is taking up more than 30 percent of the entire cab fare. Without (the government’s) measures, the cab industry can be endangered.”
According to policymakers, taxi firms have submitted request forms for higher minimum taxi fares to their local governments. The exact list and application date of the new fare are still being discussed.
Busan City confirmed its plan to raise the minimum taxi fare by 31.8 percent from 2,200 won to 2,900 won starting February 2013.
Seoul is currently reviewing a proposal on raising the fare by 33.3 percent ― the largest among its counterparts ― from 2,400 won to 3,200 won, vernacular reports said, citing policymakers.
Seoul City is currently at odds with these policymakers, however, regarding the tax fare policy. Whereas the ministry has announced nationwide fare increases for cabs, the capital has issued a public notice that the plan is out of their consideration.
City Hall’s notice states that the City of Seoul, not government ministries, is entitled to decide the transportation fare in Seoul.
Policymakers also revealed plans to raise charges for inter-city buses by the end of 2012. They said that the proposal is currently being reviewed before consulting with the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.
Although the degree of the fare hike is not yet decided, experts predict that the charges will go up about 10 percent for non-express buses and nonstop buses and about 5 percent for express buses.
“Our plan is to increase the cross-city bus fare in accordance with the increase in general prices,” a government official said.
“The new fare system for non-express buses and express buses will have little influence over the general increase of prices.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs said that nothing has yet been decided concerning the fare hike issue.
The nationwide increase in transportation fares has been seen among Korean air carriers.
The nation’s two leading airlines, Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, raised flight fares by about 10 percent on July 1 and July 18, respectively.
Following suit, low-cost airlines have announced plans to increase their flight fares as well.
The fare for Air Busan will rise by about 10 percent starting in September and about 5 percent for Eastar Jet, according to reports.
Jeju Air, Jin Air and T’way Airlines are currently in discussion regarding the start date and the degree of the price increase.
By Chung Joo-won (firstname.lastname@example.org