SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – The Seoul Metropolitan Government is expected to hold a discussion next week on controversial carpool services that have been accused of violating the Passenger Transport Service Act.
The meeting is expected to gather together experts and officials from the taxi and ICT industries, civic groups, and government officials to discuss ways for both taxis and carpool services to coexist, according to the Seoul government.
Poolus, a South Korean carpool service which has been mired in controversy for potential violations of the Passenger Transport Service Act, will also be invited.
“The government has yet to contact me. I will decide whether to participate or not depending on the nature of the discussion,” said Poolus CEO Kim Tae-ho.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government and Poolus have been clashing over the interpretation of the country’s transport act for some time, with the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency having visited Poolus headquarters last Friday as part of its investigation.
The Poolus commuting service allows users to select a total of 8 hours per day at the time of their choosing, five days a week, but Seoul government officials take issue with the idea of a 24-hour carpool service, under which some of the services offered by Poolus fall.
“The time-selecting service is clearly a 24/7 year-round carpool service. As this service seems to be in violation of Article 81 of the Passenger Transport Service Act, we asked the police to investigate,” Seoul government officials said.
Unlike taxis, where drivers’ criminal records are checked on a monthly basis for safety reasons, carpool services can’t be controlled and monitored in the same way, city officials explained.
However, guidelines are expected to be set along with other measures to crack down on widespread issue of late-night taxi drivers refusing fares, as the government acknowledges the controversial carpool services are the logical result of issues like unruly taxi drivers.
Poolus has hit back however, calling the Seoul government’s understanding of the transport law ‘over interpretation’.
“The Passenger Transport Service Act is criminal law, yet it doesn’t specify hours of operation, which isn’t grounds for the criminalization of carpool commute services,” Poolus said.
Despite the meeting, the Seoul government’s resolute stance on the 24-hour service is expected to put both the city officials and Poolus on a collision course with each other.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)