Uber launches taxi calling service in Seoul  

Posted on : 2019-04-03 17:48 KST Modified on : 2019-04-03 17:48 KST
Service exclusively recruits privately owned taxis

Uber has developed a full-fledged mid-sized taxi calling service in Seoul. Observers are reading the move as a bit to establish a lawful line of attack after previously being found to be in violation of the law with its ride hailing services.

Uber announced on Apr. 1 that it will be expanding its regular mid-sized taxi services in Seoul as of Apr. 2. The system is one in which users who select the “taxi” option in their Uber app will have a mid-sized taxi automatically dispatched from the nearest location. The method is similar to that of the Kakao T app, also used for calling taxis. After installing the Uber app, users will be able to choose a “taxi” option after inputting their location and destination. The estimated fare will not be listed.

The cost is identical to regular mid-sized taxis. Users pay the driver directly after the journey is complete, with both credit card and cash payment options available. The inability to use the app to make payments is believed to be due to discussions failing to take place with Korea Smart Card, which is in charge of payment system management.

While Uber had previously been operating a mid-sized taxi calling service, the limited number of passengers and drivers meant its market impact was minimal. But with a “societal compromise” last month putting an effect end to the taxi/carpooling debate in South Korea, Uber appears to have settled on taxis as a target for a full-fledged ride hailing business.

“Uber plans to provide a wider and more advanced range of mobility services while continuing to pursue cooperation with domestic partners,” said Son Hee-seok, mobility service director for Uber Korea.

A full-scale “recommendation” system was reportedly introduced recently to recruit drivers for the mid-sized taxi services, which operates exclusively with privately owned taxis. A driver who recommends a second driver receives a payment once the second driver has received a certain number of service requests. For the month of June, Uber is holding a promotional event that offers a 50% discount for the first ride and 20% discounts on all subsequent rides.

By Park Tae-woo, staff reporter

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