December 10, 2018 12:30
Kakao Mobility launched a trial service of its new ride-sharing app on Friday despite fierce resistance from conventional taxi drivers. Full services will start on Dec. 17.
Customers can use the app to hail drivers in the vicinity. The ride-sharing fare is W3,000 for the first 2 km and additional costs for extra distance (US$1=W1,121). The overall fare is 70 to 80 percent of cab fares.
Due to fierce opposition from cab drivers, ride sharing is limited to twice a day per driver, but no limits have been placed on usage time during the day although an earlier suggestion was to permit it only in rush hours.
More than 20 million Kakao users are potential ride-sharing customers, and more than 70,000 drivers have signed up for the service. That is equivalent to the total number of cabs registered in the Seoul area.
One IT industry source said, "once word gets out, the number of users could surge."
Taxi drivers are bracing for a huge impact. Four taxi company associations have convened an emergency meeting on Monday and vowed to call for Kakao to call off the launch while threatening to boycott the taxi-hailing service.
Cab drivers have also staged rallies to vent their grievances, but authorities face a delicate balance between giving in to them or ignoring millions of potential customers who welcome the convenience and are tired of conventional taxi drivers' price-gouging and refusals to accept fares.
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