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Bus strike looking likely

This could make tomorrow’s commute rather problematic:

Bus drivers vowed Tuesday to begin a naitonwide strike later this week in protest against a bill that redefines taxis as a mode of mass transit and offers them compensation for losses.

The debate over whether taxis are public transportation means heated up after a parliamentary committee last week unanimously passed the bill that effectively categorized taxis as a mode of mass transit.

The bill has yet to be approved by a full parliamentary session.

Expressing immediate opposition to the move, the association of the country’s 17 bus operators decided to launch a strike on Thursday to block the passage of the bill.

Watching how this develops. Good luck getting to work tomorrow, at any rate.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • dinkus maximus

    It this does pass…. does it mean I’m guaranteed a ride home from Gangnam at 2 am on a Friday night? Does it mean I don’t have to worry as much if my gf takes a taxi alone? Does it mean I don’t have to barter for the “no meter” option? Does it mean my taxi is guaranteed not to smell like cigarettes and garlic?

    What does it mean?

    That said, I’m actually very happy with Korean taxis and most drivers. Usually fair, efficient, and trustworthy. And I say this in comparison to China, Thailand, and – why not – even back home.

  • madar

    The bus lanes make the busses almost as efficent as the subway. I hope this doesn’t pass and gum up a really effective improvement in public transit in Seoul. Bus lanes are already somewhat backed up in areas of heavy transit in rush hour, putting cabs in the lanes would make the bus lane system pointless when it needs to be at it’s best. It’s a really bad idea.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    This is idiotic. I hope it does not pass. As #2 said, it will totally block up the bus lanes making buses useless during rush hour. Besides, the cab drivers do not deserve to be considered the same as public transport. Buses and subways dont discriminate and pick up all passengers. Catching cabs is sometime impossible. Imagine a bus refusing to pick someone up. These filthy cab drivers will want to have their cake and it it, too. Screw them.

  • kkachi

    If bus drivers are late, they will sometimes skip stops, especially places where it is difficult to stop. It’s rare, but it happens. I’ve stood at the bus stop at Seonyudo on the Yanghwa Bridge and watched quite a few buses zoom past without stopping, opening and closing the doors quickly in transit to fool the onboard computer into thinking they had stopped.

    I do agree, though, that letting taxis into public bus lanes is a terrible idea. The bus system here is fast and efficient, especially with the new zoning system set up a few years ago. Why mess with that system?

  • madar

    @4 busses only do that if they are packed and can not take any more riders. There are areas and times where it is almost impossible to get on a bus as almost every bus coming into that area is already packed from the stops before. Seoul busses will take way, way more riders than any bus I have ever ridden back home, where they have strict legal limits. Often they will take on what I feel like is way too many passengers during rush hour. Also, if no one is waiting to get on or off at a certain bus they will flip their doors for the computer without stopping to speed things up. I am sure you are seeing one of those two things, I have never seen Seoul busses blow by passengers who were waiting properly. (Not including those trying to get in at a red light or chasing after it when it had already passed the stop, then the bus will (usually) leave them behind.) The bus drivers here are very good eggs, I have only had one real problem, and I reported that. The company checked the CCTV camera, sent me a apology and sent me $100 for my trouble! I can’t say it wasn’t resolved fairly!

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    http://asiancorrespondent.com/22836/seoul-taxi-drivers-speak-korean-dammit/

    Its from a few years ago but not much has changed. These drivers are slime bags. Thye city needs to do more to extend bus and subway service longer into the night to take business away from the taxis. These guys are accident-causing pariahs on the roads, rapists and swindlers.

    53-year old Jang, a taxi driver for the last eight years, said, “If we have to communicate through body language, if there’s no jeong, I just tell them to get out.”

    They want to eat have their cakes and eat it, too. There first needs to be a serious crackdown on the pond scum that drives the taxis in Seoul.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “The bus lanes…”

    Ah, I get it now. I was wondering why the bus drivers would care so much.

  • keith

    I’m lucky as I work mostly from home at the moment, transport strikes don’t cause me much grief.

    Most taxi drivers are OK, but it’s the really bad ones who stick in your memory. The worst behaviour comes out at night or at airports from some of them. I’ve had some of them quote absolutely ludicrous prices to take me fairly short distances. They don’t make much money and they work long hours, I would actually have a lot of sympathy for them if so many of them weren’t arseholes.

    I don’t know what the qualifications are to become a taxi driver, but it certainly isn’t like taking the ‘London Knowledge’ test. And I don’t think they even have to have a CRC which is ludicrous considering how many have got up to unsavoury, creepy, criminal behaviour with female passengers. Some of them don’t even bother using their GPS systems if they don’t know where something is, I guess they’re too busy using the device to watch sports or dramas half the time.

    Letting them use the bus lanes is a ludicrous idea, but I do think they should get some government subsidies to support them. They do provide a valuable service to the public and I honestly wonder how they can make a living on the pitiful money they make, but they’re not public transport and should keep out of the bus lanes.

    People do gripe and often with good reason, but some taxi drivers are very nice people. The other week my wife left her phone in a taxi, and she was sure it was gone (an expensive smartphone). She tried calling it and the battery had died. She tried again the next day and the driver had charged the phone and he brought it to our house later, he refused to accept any money for his trouble! What a lovely guy. As it was ‘Peppero Day’ we gave him a big box of the stuff as a reward instead of money. Some taxi drivers are great, I’ve even had a few refuse payment because they wanted to practice their English.

    I generally find the best taxi drivers in Korea to be the women, it’s a shame there aren’t more female taxi drivers. The female drivers tend to drive better, seem to know their way around quite well, I’ve never had the slightest problem with a woman taxi driver.

  • http://www.zenkimchi.com/FoodJournal ZenKimchi

    Eh, screw them all… heh, heh!

    I’ve had buses fly past me at stops that were hardly full. I’ve even had bus drivers stop the bus to get into fistfights with other bus drivers.

    With taxis, I can rarely get one after midnight to take me home. They’ve cheated me on fares–once we got a refund from one. They line up on the taxi line with the “Card Taxi” sign on their cabs and then refuse to take cards.

    Subway drivers have never caused me grief.

  • taidgh

    What I want to know is: if this law passes, does that mean senior citizens can ride taxis for free? Would hilarious.

  • kkachi

    @5 With all due respect, you are quite wrong. I have had buses go by me in the far lane at Seonyudo that were hardly full. Just because you have never seen it does not mean it never happens. Some will indeed skip stops and not necessarily at rush hour. In face, most of the times when I’ve seen buses skip Seonyudo has been late evening. I agree with you, though, that most bus drivers are quite nice.

    This is off point, though. Making taxis public transportation doesn’t make any sense and is still a terrible idea.

  • madar

    Kkachi, the next time it happens get the time, date, stop, and bus number and file a complaint in Korean with the proper bus company. They have CCTV in the buses and facing towards traffic, too. Have the managers threaten a few drivers face potential dismissal and I suspect you will never have a problem again. I’m surprised it happen to you, as I suspect any Korean ajuma it happen too would almost certainly have make a stink! Does it happen with Koreans waiting with you? If so I’m shocked! The one problem I had I feel almost certainly wouldn’t have happened to me had I been Korean, and the driver had thought I could have made a proper complaint; or I would have at least gotten an apology, in which case I never would have complained. For about two weeks after I did complain, I had the sneaking suspicion that every driver on the line knew who I was, by the overly polite way I was greeted and the long looks I got when I got on the bus. Give it a go, you might be surprised by the results. The simple ability to properly address a complaint may be what elevates the service of bus drivers over the numerous problems almost all of us have had with taxi drivers.

  • madar

    Actually, in addition to the other information get a license plate number when a bus blows you by and you will be sure to get your complaint properly addressed.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    People do gripe and often with good reason, but some taxi drivers are very nice people. The other week my wife left her phone in a taxi, and she was sure it was gone (an expensive smartphone). She tried calling it and the battery had died. She tried again the next day and the driver had charged the phone and he brought it to our house later, he refused to accept any money for his trouble! What a lovely guy. As it was ‘Peppero Day’ we gave him a big box of the stuff as a reward instead of money. Some taxi drivers are great, I’ve even had a few refuse payment because they wanted to practice their English.

    In 1996 I left my passport in a cab. The driver worked very hard over four days to track my happy ass down to return the passport. In 2008 I broke my knee slipping on some ice (anyone remember that winter?) and a 65 year-old cab driver put me on his back to load me into his car and deliver me to a hospital. He stayed to make sure I got properly treated. Korean cab drivers get a bad rap.

  • jkitchstk

    Just heard some taxi driver on TV say he was happy that taxi drivers will be able to provide us better services. Of course I don’t know what those might be, does anyone?

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    my many experiences with taxis here are also far more positive than negative — “pond scum” most of the drivers are not!

  • iMe

    Brendon,
    I’m not used to you standing up for peasants like cab drivers. Please tell us we all need to stop bitching and just go buy a Jaguar or something. I just can’t look at you the same way until you do.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    @14 BC, your Korean cab story about breaking your knee really warms my heart.
    ************

  • Anonymous_Joe

    #8 keith: Letting them use the bus lanes is a ludicrous idea, but I do think they should get some government subsidies to support them. They do provide a valuable service to the public and I honestly wonder how they can make a living on the pitiful money they make, but they’re not public transport and should keep out of the bus lanes.

    Although I wonder how taxi drivers can make a living given their marginal revenue barely covers their marginal cost, I don’t think that government subsidies are the or even an answer. Government subsidies would only exacerbate the problem of too many taxis. Besides, there are already government subsidies for public transportation (a.k.a. buses and subways) that are much more cost efficient for providing this public good.

    I am not without sympathy for the taxi drivers who are generally older and likely lower skilled and less educated. I don’t know how they can provide for their families on what they probably make. Still, the market for taxis fits the competitive market model, and I know that subsidization is not an answer.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    @14 BC, I just read your story again. I have a tear in my eye. Really.

  • http://coryinkorea.wordpress.com/ 코리아

    “Still, the market for taxis fits the competitive market model”
    Except taxis aren’t truly a competitive market because the base fares and rates are set by the government. I would also say these rates are kept incredibly, if not unreasonably, low for the benefit of the general public. I don’t think taxis should be considered public transportation and I certainly don’t want to see them in the bus lanes, but still the drivers are being held to ridiculously low wages not by the market, but by the government, so the government does need to do something about it. The reasonable solution? Raise the rates to a sustainable level, but good luck seeing that so close to an election. This bill was just a cop-out to silence a problematic group and avoid pissing off voters (although as a result they may have created an even more problematic group with the potential to piss off even more voters).

  • jkitchstk

    On the Road Again
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TD_pSeNelU

    Buses are on the road, some agreement must’ve been made?

  • http://coryinkorea.wordpress.com/ 코리아

    “SEOUL, Nov. 22 (Yonhap) — Bus service in Seoul returned to normal on Thursday after drivers staged a brief walkout in protest against a National Assembly bill meant to increase financial benefits to taxi companies. The National Association of Bus Companies said bus service nationwide was normalized as of 6:20 a.m.”

    http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/11/22/78/0301000000AEN20121122000651315F.HTML

    Just a bit of bluster to get their point across I guess.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    In 2008 I broke my knee

    i always knew you were weak-kneed bro.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    I just read your story again. I have a tear in my eye. Really.

    you sound fucking gay bro. really.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Does an act, or two, of kindness make up for all the actys of scumminess? Taxi drivers are a menace in more ways than one. Anyone who has to share the road with them in any way, be that as a driver, a cyclist or a motorcyslist, knows that these guys are oblivious to their surroundings, ba!, they are intentionally assholes on the road. And as nice as you guys claim they are, how many of you would trust a cabbie with your wife or girlfriend late at night? 99% of you would have serious worries about her getting home safely.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Anyone who has to share the road with them in any way, be that as a driver, a cyclist or a motorcyslist, knows that these guys are oblivious to their surroundings, ba!, they are intentionally assholes on the road.

    I don’t see how this distinguishes cab drivers from any other driver on the road in Korea.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Because the average cab is far worse than the average car. If you see a car parked on the side of the street, in heavy traffic, blocking the whole lane (and not even just to stop for a passenger – though they pull some dangerous maneuvers when they see a waiting passenger – but siomply because they feel they can); when you see cars cutting off others in traffic; when you see cars basically putting others at risk, you can be pretty sure that 80% of these will be cabs. Do regular drivers break the rules? Sure, but cabs take it to a whole higher level.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    #21 코리아:

    “Still, the market for taxis fits the competitive market model”

    Except taxis aren’t truly a competitive market because the base fares and rates are set by the government. I would also say these rates are kept incredibly, if not unreasonably, low for the benefit of the general public.

    Of course I knew that both the flag drop and incremental rates were set, but it slipped my mind when I posted. You view the government set rates as a price ceiling whereas I view them as a price floor.

    We probably have no way to practically settle our difference, but I will note that there seems to be an oversupply of/not enough demand for taxis, which suggests that the externality introduced into the market is a price floor.

    Certainly in Seoul, which has a great subway and bus system, taxis are not a necessity for the general public and would fall into the luxury good category. The subway and buses are milk, taxis are butter. (For out in the provinces, I won’t make any statements.)

    For taxis in Seoul to increase their rates, they would have to appeal to the market segment (cough, cough, BC) that is price inelastic in its demand for taxis, but that segment is much smaller and would support a much lower quantity of taxi supply. To maintain the higher price level the government would have to strictly limit the quantity of taxis supplied because the higher rates would induce more quantity into supply. That’s basically what I see happening in Seoul.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    #25 Jashin Densetsu:

    I just read your story again. I have a tear in my eye. Really.

    you sound fucking gay bro. really.

    When I read his fabulous seeming fairy tale, I had never felt such gaiety or so light in my loafers that my figuratively skipping heart literally skipped a beat.

    …but bro, you just need to come out and be done with it. As that other drama queen said in Hamlet, “the lady do protest too much, me thinks“.

  • paulhewson