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Seoul hikes taxi fares after 4 years

Feb. 1, 2023 - 14:52 By Son Ji-hyoung
Cabs line up in front of Seoul Station to wait for passengers on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Seoul taxi fares rose for the first time in four years beginning from 4 a.m. Wednesday through a basic rate hike, amid rising fuel costs and inflation, according to the taxi drivers' association.

The ordinary taxi's initial charge for the first 1.6 kilometers is now set at 4,800 won ($3.90), up 26.3 percent from 3,800 won applied for the first 2 kilometers four years ago. The initial charge would cover a ride from Seoul Station to the Myeong-dong shopping district, for instance.

When moving from Jonggak Station to Sinsa Station via cab on a 7-kilometer ride during the day, passengers were charged 9,600 won before, but would now be charged 11,000 won, according to the Seoul municipal government.

The metered fare was adjusted to 100 won per every 131 meters, compared with the previous 100 won per 132 meters.

Those using a cab at night are charged 5,800 won for basic fares between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. or between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m, and 6,700 won between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Meanwhile, international taxis run by Seoul will see up to a 10,000 won hike, depending on the distance. Large cabs and premium cabs saw a hike in the initial charge to 7,000 won, up 8 percent, for a 3-km ride.

The Seoul Private Taxi Association said in a statement the "inevitable measure" was meant to "overcome the plight of the taxi operation due to rising fuel costs and the COVID-19 pandemic."

The fare hike was approved by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in October 2022. Seoul operates some 71,000 ordinary cabs, out of the entire 72,000 fleet.

Seoul is working to increase fares for other modes of public transit, such as subways and buses, later this year.

In April, the municipal government is looking to implement a fare hike to pare financial losses of the city's public transportation infrastructure. A hearing will precede the final decision as the government mulls two options -- a hike by 300 won or 400 won.

Earlier Monday, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon called on the central government to allocate state funds to make up for public transit operators' losses from free rides, adding such a decision would enable the municipal government to ditch its fare hike plan.