May 20, 2015 08:17
The hardest place to catch a cab in Seoul is near City Hall downtown, where it takes an average of 9.4 minutes. Chances of catching a taxi are not much higher near Gyeongbok Palace and Jongno, where it takes an average 8.9 minutes.
And 9 p.m. till midnight is the toughest time to catch a taxi, requiring 9.3 minutes on average.
But it takes only 7.2 minutes to catch a taxi between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. At night, it takes an average of 11.7 minutes near City Hall and 11.2 minutes around Gyeongbok Palace.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government last week released a report based on a study by the Seoul Institute and estimated that Seoulites spend a collective 197,266 minutes a day waiting for cabs.
The institute gathered data from 3,767 people living in the capital.
The average time it took to catch a cab was 7.9 minutes and the total waiting time was derived by multiplying that figure by 1.5 million, which is the number of times Seoulites use cabs a day.
That led to an estimate that W2.47 billion (US$1=W1,091) is wasted everyday in social costs as people wait for cabs, totaling W901.6 billion a year.
A Seoul Institute spokesman said, "Cutting down the time it takes to catch a cab by just one minute could lead to W114.3 billion in saved social costs annually."
Only 18.2 percent of people who took part in the study said they favor taxis over other modes of transportation. The biggest deterrent to using cabs is the price (22 percent), while dissatisfaction with cab drivers refusing to take passengers (20.9 percent) and long waits (7.5 percent) were also major reasons.
The institute said the difficulty in catching taxis at night stems from the fact that aged cab drivers stay home.
Out of 72,000 taxis in operation in Seoul, 49,323 are privately owned, and 30.8 percent of them are driven by people over 65.
A recent study by the city government showed that only 48.3 percent of 35,079 privately-owned cabs operate from midnight to 2 a.m. and 24 percent of cab drivers aged 70 or more and 34 percent of cabbies aged 65 to 69 prefer not to work during those hours.
A Seoul city official said, "We have asked elderly cab drivers to work late hours once or twice a week, but we can’t force them. We need to come up with measures to ensure passenger safety amid concerns that the drivers are too old."
Some 1,900 privately owned cabs do pick up customers from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. under a city scheme, and there are calls to expand them. One researcher who took part in the study said, "We need to boost the number of taxis and buses that run late into the night to prevent long waits."
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