Passengers against move to stop quality ride service
Recently, people who work in mass transportation have become the center of media attention for their extreme methods of protest.
The public was just spared a nationwide strike of bus drivers against the government's push for the 52-hour workweek, which drivers feared would trigger pay cuts. Now, taxi drivers are staging protests for their survival, with one driver setting himself on fire and ending up killing himself at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, Wednesday. The driver, who was in his mid-70s, had been a fervent opponent of the ride-hailing service Tada, which is gaining popularity swiftly, particularly among the younger population as a replacement for taxis.
The ride-sharing service was launched in October 2018 by the mobility startup VCNC (Value Creator and Company), a subsidiary of the car-sharing service SoCar.
The taxi associations have strongly opposed ride-hailing apps like Tada. Last month, a taxi driver was reported to police for beating up a Tada driver and disturbing foreign passengers who were taking the Tada service. Such violent behavior from taxi drivers against Tada drivers is causing public concern.
Taxi drivers claim the new services like Tada will threaten their livelihoods by taking away their customers. Their fear is understandable when considering the fast rise of Tada, which is racking up members at a fast pace despite the slightly more expensive fares than regular taxis.
In Korea, cabs are readily available but they are notorious for bad service. Many passengers have been complaining about taxi drivers for a long time over their reckless driving and rude behavior. It is questionable how much of the Korean public, who have been fed up with the existing taxi service, will side with the drivers who are protesting new services for their own good. They ought to be thinking about why Tada is doing so well and benchmark its good qualities, rather than threatening the government to stop it, like they did with the Kakao carpool service earlier this year.
For passengers who want a little more comfort, safety and a pleasant commute, there are many reasons to choose Tada over regular cabs. The cars are spacious, the drivers do not talk to the passengers unless necessary and are very polite to them. Plus, passengers are provided with free Wi-Fi and smartphone recharging services and the drivers respond kindly to the passengers' requests, such as turning on the air conditioner. The Tada drivers are much younger than the regular taxi drivers and do not speed recklessly. For all this, many passengers are willing to pay a little more.
Cab drivers must realize they cannot be exempt from dealing with the changing times and new technology. It is wrong for the cab drivers to refuse competition, not to mention infringing upon the passengers' right to enjoy quality ride service.