SEOUL, March 22 (Korea Bizwire) – Callbus LAB, the company behind a new call bus service, is locking horns with the taxi industry with another pilot project scheduled for April and May.
Currently Callbus LAB and the taxi association have agreed on the terms of payment and number of buses operated, but the time the late night bus service starts has yet to be determined. Callbus insists that the service should start at 10 p.m., but the taxi association is opposed to the idea, saying that it should start at midnight. Seoul Metropolitan Government suggested that the service start at 11 p.m. as a compromise, and requested that the two parties submit arguments on the matter by March 23.
Seoul city officials explained that if late night call buses start running at 11 p.m., when taxis most frequently reject passengers, the service could offer a useful means of transportation to citizens who do not have access to taxis and the subway system. According to data provided by the city, the taxi rejection rate increases by 16 percent after 11 p.m. and 22 percent after midnight.
Since the late night call buses are a substitute for public transportation, city officials feel that starting the service at 10 p.m. would be inefficient, as public buses and subway trains are still in operation.
Seoul also plans to decide on the expansion of the late night call bus system to the Ilsan and Bundang areas based on the results of the pilot run in Gangnam. Officials explained that they selected Gangnam for the pilot as most of the taxi rejections occur for passengers wanting to travel only a short distance within the district.
City officials emphasized that finding problems with the new system and coming up with countermeasures through a pilot conducted in a localized region is more important than expanding the service to a larger area. This is because the late night call bus system is directly linked to the everyday lives of citizens, and is not just a private business.
Since negative financial repercussions to existing businesses should be minimized, but the call bus startup company operating the new service also merits assistance, city officials are torn between the two parties. At the same time, officials have to consider the convenience of the citizens.
However, Park Byung-jong, the head of Callbus LAB, claims that the city is in favor of the taxi association. “We gave up chartered buses, and agreed to cooperate with the taxi industry. We already yielded a great deal. However, city officials seem to be leaning towards the taxi industry, and implementing new types of restrictions,” he says. “Since the time when most citizens are rejected by taxis is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., I strongly believe that the service should start at 10 p.m.”, he added.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)