The government, taxi businesses and a shared mobility operator agreed Thursday to permit app-based carpooling services during morning and evening commute hours.
Taxi associations have been strongly opposed to the introduction of carpooling services by Kakao Mobility, the operator of South Korea's largest taxi-hailing app, claiming it will put their business in jeopardy.
Under the agreement reached by a consultation body involving the ruling party, the government, taxi businesses and Kakao Mobility, carpooling services will be permitted from 7-9 a.m. and 6-8 p.m., while weekends and holidays will be excluded.
They launched the social dialogue body in late January to explore win-win strategies over shared mobility.
Kakao Mobility sought to officially launch its app-based carpool services in December, but the company delayed it over the death of a taxi driver, who set himself on fire in protest against the services.
Later, the company decided to temporarily suspend the pilot operation of its carpool services and to take part in the dialogue body.
Taxi drivers have claimed that carpooling services would take away their passengers and could be used 24/7, as flexible working hours blur the traditional notion of commuting hours.
In 1961, South Korea imposed a ban on commercial transport by private cars, but it introduced an exception clause for carpooling in 1994 for commuting to and from work to cope with traffic congestion.
Participants in the dialogue body also agreed to seek deregulation in the taxi industry and improve working conditions for taxi drivers, including the introduction of the salary-based pay system.
Opposition parties welcomed the agreement, calling on the government to work together with the National Assembly to come up with follow-up measures necessary to launch the new services.(Yonhap)