SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Korea Bizwire) – On November 26, the Seoul Metropolitan Government introduced a new taxi app called “Jibro”1 to be released next month, as well as a list of administrative measures to address shortages in late night transportation options.
Seoul’s Jibro differentiates itself from other taxi-hailing services like KakaoTaxi in one key way: users can select and call available cabs near their location without being required to input their journey destination.
This minor tweak to existing taxi app models is intended to be a means of discouraging drivers from selectively responding to passengers based on their chosen destination. KakaoTaxi has been besieged by an unending stream of complaints regarding this sort of behavior from cabbies, but with the company’s official position being that identifying perpetrators of this bias is not possible, rooting out the practice has naturally been a difficult proposition.
For cab drivers, the only destination information available in Jibro is whether the traveler intends to go somewhere “in Seoul” or “outside Seoul”. They will then have the option to respond to the call or pass on it using the buttons provided on the card reader device placed in all taxis.
Those who initially agree to the pickup but refuse after being informed of the destination will under usual circumstances face disciplinary action for refusal of fare. However, the city government has stated that Jibro will be test-run until March, and throughout that period it will not enforce the refusal of fare regulation.
Jibro for Android will be available starting December 4, with the iOS version slated for an early spring release next April. Daytime pickups will carry a 1000 won surcharge and an additional 1000 won will be tacked on for pickups from midnight to 4 a.m.
Though Seoul has made itself a direct competitor of KakaoTaxi by developing its own taxi-hailing service, the two have agreed for KakaoTaxi to distribute long distance rides to drivers with a track record of favoring short distance trips to better ensure no driver takes only long or short trips.
In addition, KakaoTaxi will redirect incoming calls away during select hours from taxis that acquire a bad habit of consistently refusing to respond to calls.
Seoul will also expand late-night transportation options in neighborhoods like Gangnam and Hongdae with the “Night Owl Bus”. The bus will travel between city hubs with large concentrations of people during late hours and serve as a secondary means of transport out of these areas.
Other reinforcements will be an increase in “call buses” in operation during late-night hours from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m., and a temporary suspension of a regulation governing taxi shifts through December. Taxis currently operate on a “5-Shift Set”, meaning drivers are required to take a day off after five days of work. This rule will be lifted on Fridays from December 1 through 22, and every day from November 23 through Christmas until the last day of the year, essentially flooding the city with a fleet of more than 2,000 cabs.
Provisional taxi stops will be placed in the aforementioned neighborhoods and police officers will be stationed throughout to keep an eye out for taxis refusing fares.
Editor’s note: “Jibro” is a translation of the Korean “지브로”. Actual title of the app may be different.1