SEOUL, Jan. 22 (Korea Bizwire) — Data shows the taxi industry was negatively affected during Seoul’s free public transport days last week, part of city-level measures to combat fine dust.
Fewer people took taxis or drove their own cars last week when public transport was free as a result of high fine dust levels, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said on Sunday after analyzing road traffic data.
According to the government’s analysis, the average number of taxi rides recorded on January 15, 17 and 18 between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. was estimated at 135,294, down 1 percent from the same time one week before.
During the evening rush hour, the number of taxi passengers dropped even more over the same period, from 174,816 to 163,379, down 6.5 percent.
“I took the bus instead of a taxi as usual after learning about the free transport policy. I left my wallet at home by accident so I didn’t have my transport card with me, but the driver let me board, which doesn’t usually happen,” said an individual referred to only as Park, who commutes from Yongsan District to Gwanghwamun.
Another commuter, Seo, took a taxi instead of taking advantage of free transport.
“You breathe in fine dust particles on your way to the subway station so I didn’t find the idea very appealing,” Seo said.
Last Monday, when public transport became free for the first time in the South Korean capital as a result of the new fine dust policy, a notable number of commuters appeared to have switched from taxis to other means of transport such as buses and the subway.
Official figures show the number of taxi rides last Monday was down by over 5,500 during the morning commuting hours, and by 11,555 during the evening commuting hours.
Even fewer commuters took taxis at night on January 17, but the number of taxi passengers in the morning commuting hours bounced back slightly.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government hopes to reduce emissions of toxic air pollutants by making public transport free on certain days to improve the city’s air quality.
During the three days when the air was so bad Seoul’s free transit policy was triggered, there was a notable increase in the number of subway and bus riders, while road traffic was down by over 1 percent on average.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)