Taxi drivers agree to permit Kakao's carpool service for rewards

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2019-03-07 18:30 Updated : 2019-03-08 07:54
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap Photo]

SEOUL -- South Korea's web service giant Kakao will be allowed to provide a ride-sharing smartphone mobility app for only a designated time under an agreement endorsed by taxi drivers in return for better pay and working conditions as well as new platform services.

The agreement came Thursday after the so-called social dialogue body involving representatives from Kakao, the ruling party, the government and taxi-related associations. Carpool services will be permitted for two hours each from 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., but weekends and holidays will be excluded.

The ride-hailing service was to be launched on December 17, but Kakao put it off due to strong protests by taxi drivers. Two drivers have died in self-immolation. Kakao has been involved in government-brokered negotiations to work out a compromise.

Carpooling during commuting hours is legal, but taxi drivers insisted Kakao's ride-sharing service would fan an illegally paid service by private cars mainly due to flexible working hours. In return for allowing car-pooling services during designated rush hours, taxi drivers will get better pay and improved working conditions.

Kakao agreed to develop various platform services for taxis. "There are a lot of cases overseas that can provide platform services freely within the system," Kakao Mobility CEO Jung Joo-hwan told reporters. "We will work with taxis to develop various mobility services."

Taxi drivers have endured low income, excessive work and poor working conditions. Government data showed that there are about 269,800 taxis, including 80,800 in Seoul. Taxi drivers in Seoul work for an average of 12 hours a day and earn an average of about 2.1 million won ($1,874) a month.