SEOUL, Dec. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – Startup companies voiced opposition Wednesday following recent media reports that the government may impose restrictions on mobile apps offering carpool services.
The Korea Startup Forum, representing some 70 startups in the country, released an official statement Wednesday claiming that carpool apps are legitimate business models that do not violate any laws.
“Carpool apps operate within the boundaries set by the law, connecting drivers with passengers,” said officials. “A related provision does allow drivers to receive fees from passengers as long as they share the ride during a commute to and from work.”
The provision pointed out by the forum is legislated in article 81 of the Passenger Transport Service Act, which permits paid rides specific to commutes.
There are several carpool apps offered in Korea such as PoolUs and LUXI, which offer services only on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. (hours may differ slightly depending on the app) in accordance with the legal guidelines. The number of times that a driver can provide rides each day is also limited by the app.
However, the growing popularity of such services pushed cab drivers to file complaints with local governments, demanding legal intervention. A similar controversy was sparked by Uber after it launched its service in Korea in 2013. The business was ultimately forced out from the country in 2015.
“UberX was gathering drivers to provide rides ‘indefinitely’, which is the biggest difference between carpool services that operate only during specific hours,” they added.
In response to Wednesday’s opposition, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport made it clear that the apps are not violating any laws as long as they operate within commute hours.
“We’re not considering any additional regulations since they’re operating in accordance with legal guidelines,” said a ministry official.
By Joseph Shin (firstname.lastname@example.org)