Today, I spent all day from 7:00 AM until 9:50 PM doing things related to taxi drivers. In short, it was Taxi Day. I changed taxis six times to listen to what drivers wanted to tell me, attended a policy discussion session held at a private taxi cooperative, talked to the taxi drivers at an LPG station, and then paid a visit to Pochang Transportation Company in Sinwol-dong.
We at Seoul Metropolitan Government have made efforts for the establishment of a convenient, safe transportation system, solving one important problem after another, including the bus drivers’ strike in 2012 and expression of objection to the Subway Line 9’s surprise fare hike this year. Knowing that taxi-related problems are very complicated, I have made preparations since last year.
The following are the complaints I heard from taxi drivers today:
“Seoul should build many more public toilets. The most difficult thing we experience in driving taxis is the insufficient number of public toilets.”
“I earn only 40,000 ~ 50,000 won a day. Eating out with the family is out of the question.”
“I have to return to the taxi company by the designated hour to hand the taxi over to the next driver. Because of that, I am forced to turn down passengers, who then report me to the authorities. It simply upsets me.”
“If someone reports us for refusing to take him/her as passenger, we have to go there and answer questions when we should be working to earn more. Besides, we are made to feel like criminals during the investigation.”
The taxi drivers I met today seemed to have endless problems and complaints. Of course, the problems of taxis in Seoul are very complicated, and we cannot pay attention only to taxi drivers. Basically, passengers are the most important factor as far as taxi-related policies are concerned. The core of the matter is to provide a convenient, safe transportation system to the people.
If taxi drivers are full of complaints and are not satisfied at all with their job, however, passengers cannot expect to receive good-quality service from them.
I have solved important pending issues of Seoul, such as New Town in Eunpyeong, Magok District, G-Valley, etc., through the operation of the onsite Mayor’s Office. There, I saw the power of concentration. I have seen that we can solve even a matter that seemed to be an impossible problem with Seoul Metropolitan Government officials’ concentrated efforts based on accumulated experience and mutual collaboration. My operation of the onsite Mayor’s Office today was started in the hopes that I would be able to find a clue to the complicated problem related to taxi drivers. I got upset when some of the taxi drivers complained harshly about Seoul Metropolitan Government’s policy concerning them. Nonetheless, I am strongly committed to finding a good policy that can satisfy all parties.
We will discuss problems such as the need to increase the number of public toilets, proper level of taxi fare, and need to reduce the number of taxis with those concerned, including the central government, experts, and people for the dual goal of people’s convenient use of taxi service and taxi drivers’ provision of good-quality service.
To those taxi drivers who talked with me today, please drive safely and have a happy day.