The Agency for Seoul Corporate Taxis conducted an in-depth analysis of the data obtained from GPS and card payment meters for 3.26 million taxi rides in 2011 including time and place of operation, traffic level, and passengers’ social characteristics to create their ‘Report on the Characteristics of Seoulite Taxi Use.’
The average daily distance traveled by Seoul taxis was 433.7km, of which only 257km involved the transportation of a passenger, i.e., about 59% of the time, while for the remaining 176 km (41%) the cabs remained empty. The occupancy rate was fairly consistent between weekdays and weekends, with only Friday and Saturday having significantly higher percentages, at 61.5% and 60.1% respectively. Annually, the average distance was highest in December, with an average daily travel distance of 447.2km, i.e., 13km more than in other months. It seems that the many year-end meetings held this month account for the extra increase.
On average, a single person taking a taxi travels approximately 5.4 km, and pays an average fare of about 6,000 won.
In the case of call taxis, passengers travel an average of 11.6 km in 27.1 minutes, about twice the distance traveled in a regular taxi (5.4 km). For short distances, the analysis shows that city residents mostly take regular taxis, but for long distances people prefer to take call taxis. Gangnam, Yeouido and Bundang among others are frequent points of embarkation for call taxis, whereas passengers tend to disembark in different areas around the city, such as Pyeongchon, Jung-dong, Bundang, and so forth.
After analyzing the data according to time, the approximate hourly demand for a single taxi rapidly increases to over 25,000 won during two periods of the day: the first is during the morning rush hour, roughly between 6:30 and 9:30 AM, and the second is late in the evening when people are returning home, from about 10PM until 2AM. The peaks for the two periods occur at 8:30 in the morning, and about 12:30 at night. However, the demand for taxis rapidly declines after this time, with individual taxi rates falling to about 10,000 won, and at that point, supply and demand for taxis becomes seriously imbalanced.
According to the data, in the downtown area the average taxi operating gross rate is about 49,000 won/hour; however towards midnight, the amount slips to about 40,000 won /hour. The primary reasons given for the decrease in operating revenue of individual taxis were the old age of the drivers as well as the level of intoxication and smell of alcohol affecting many passengers. These factors made for a poor environment in which to operate taxis.
The weekend demand for taxis was rather poor compared to weekdays. On Saturdays, until 2:30 AM, the demand was above average, but on Sundays demand rapidly fell to below 15,000 won.
While not significantly more so than any other day of the week, the demand for taxis is highest on Friday, with 418,000 trips, i.e., about 16.4% of the weekly average, followed by Thursday (16.0%), Wednesday (15.5%), Tuesday (14.6%), and then Saturday (14.3%). Over the course of the year, the demand is highest during November and December, with about 298,000 calls in total, with the lowest point coming during the holiday seasons in January, February and August.
Also, taxi movement can increase conspicuously depending on the weather. On snowy days, the average distance driven by a taxi tends to increase somewhat, to 436.6 km, and when the weather is bad taxi usage increases.
Meanwhile, the area which receives the most weekday taxi traffic is Yeoksam 1(il)-dong in Gangnam, followed by Yeouido-dong, Jongno 1, 2, 3, 4-ga-dong, Cheongdam-dong, and Apgujeong-dong. At weekends, young people tend to be located in areas like Seogyo-dong and other areas where there are many fun activities, and the tendency for taxi traffic to increase in those areas is noticeable.
Yeoksam 1(il)-dong, Yeouido-dong and so forth are typical of the central business districts, so the peak periods occur when people are going to or coming from work, whereas Jongno is a hub of commercial and entertainment facilities, so the data shows that taxis are most utilized when people are on their way home after late nights.
At present, distinct usage patterns of taxis are strongest in Yeoksam 1(il)-dong in Gangnam-gu, where the weekday usage is uncommonly high, followed by Seocho-gu, Jung-gu and then Songpa-gu in that order. All sectors of the city have a high rate of long distance travel on weekdays, especially geographically distinct areas such as Eunpyeong-gu and Gangnam-gu’s central business district, with a usage rate of over 50%, which is much higher than average. On the other hand, Seocho-gu, Mapo-gu and Yeongdeungpo-gu have rates of about 30%, and Jung-gu has the lowest rate of usage at only 20%.
Interestingly, districts that have many subway stations also exhibit high taxi usage rates, and it is estimated that many passengers transfer between the subway and taxis. In 2010, according to the results of the Actual Household Usage Survey in Seoul, transference between taxis and the subway was particularly high, i.e., around 70-79% of respondents.
The overall results for Seoul City are as follows: Seoulites usually take a taxi to travel long distances; they frequently take the subway and transfer to a taxi; and taxis, buses, the subway and other methods of public transportation perform different functions according to the analysis parameters. On examining the frequency with which people pass through other areas, the combined business districts, along with Gwangmyeong, have the highest rate at 21.3%, with the remaining areas showing less than 10%.
In terms of passenger demographics, taxi usage, more than any other form of public transport usage, increases with the age of the passenger. Also, regardless of business, the number of workers taking taxis appears to be extremely high. Compared to other age groups, older people take taxis more frequently. Due to physical restrictions it seems that after riding the subway for free, older people prefer to pay a taxi fare rather than a bus fare to complete their journey. Currently, people aged over 65 can take the subway for free, but they are required to pay a regular bus fare.
Using this data as a foundation, Seoul City intends to predict future trends, analyze the lifestyle patterns of residents, and establish a rational and reasonable taxi policy to help solve the financial difficulties that taxi businesses currently face.