SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Korea Bizwire) — The upcoming launch of a carpooling service by Internet giant Kakao has sparked taxi drivers to consider taking drastic measures, including a strike, as the conflict continues to escalate.
The carpooling service currently permitted by the government is validated by a clause in the transportation law that allows exceptions for non-commercial drivers to offer carpooling services during commuting hours.
With the rise of car sharing platforms such as Uber worldwide, similar localized versions such as Poolus and Luxicar became available to the public in 2016.
The apps allow non-taxi drivers to make money by giving rides to passengers on their way to work. Users also benefit from the service as they are able to arrive at their destinations for a relatively low price.
The applications are very easy to use. In order to become a driver for these types of services, individuals must install the app and upload photos of their drivers’ license and car registration certificate.
Users who key in their destination “match” with drivers who are headed in the same direction. But as the carpooling services became popular, taxi drivers started to voice their opinions of disapproval.
At the center of the debate is the current law that does not specify “commuting hours” as outlined by the law.
Last year, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced that Poolus’ services were illegal and requested a police investigation into the company’s operations.
Following this, the carpooling market became stagnant and Poolus began to face managerial problems. In February, Kakao acquired Luxicar and launched its very own carpooling service.
Kakao’s reasoning for the acquisition was that it would relieve the imbalance in supply and demand of taxis.
Although the demand for taxis varies depending on the time and place, the supply is fixed, resulting in inconvenience for taxi customers.
Kakao Mobility, the Kakao subsidiary behind the carpooling service, says that its new venture can help supplement taxis when demand for them cannot be met.
However, as opposition from taxi drivers continues to grow, Kakao’s carpooling service is expected to face many hurdles before it can officially be used by transport-seeking citizens.
H. S. Seo (email@example.com)