Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bus Companies to Force People to take Taxis in Strike Against Taxis

Bus companies across the country are threatening to suspend operations from today or tomorrow and even launch an indefinite strike if a bill passes recognizing taxis as a form of public transport. Members of both the ruling and opposition parties have pushed to pass the bill in a desperate attempt to win votes from the nation's taxi drivers in the presidential election despite opposition from government ministers, traffic experts, traffic police, bus operators, airline pilots, other car drivers and anyone who has ever ridden or flown in a taxi.

The companies are threatening that all buses could be taken off the road on Thursday if the Legislation and Judiciary Committee passes the bill on Wednesday, but some companies say they may begin suspending operations as soon as this morning. This will then be followed by an indefinite strike if the act is passed at a plenary session of the National Assembly which is scheduled to be held on Friday and Saturday.

Recognizing taxis as a method of public transportation would increase state subsidies to taxi companies and allow taxi drivers to use bus lanes. Bus companies say that funding taxis through taxes represents unacceptable state interference in the operation of the free market, and they demand that the money be used to increase existing state subsidies in bus companies.

However, complaints also concern the proposed use of bus lanes for taxis. Bus drivers from Korea's second-class city of Busan, which only last week held its 5th annual International Road and Sidewalk Accident Deaths Festival, said putting taxis in bus lanes would slow them down. But some bus drivers welcomed the development, saying it would make it easier for them to rear-end taxis; currently they normally have to suddenly switch lanes at speed to hit taxi drivers and this can be difficult in traffic.

Other voices have spoken up in support of the bus drivers. 68-year-old Kim, head of the taxi drivers' union, said his members supported the right of their brothers in the bus companies to strike indefinitely, even though he acknowledged this would place an extra burden on taxi drivers including the mathematical overhead of calculating fares above the official meter reading wherever possible.

Some bus drivers said they would spend tomorrow attending rallies and sit-down protests, but many said they were interested in spending the day driving a taxi from one of Korea's many one-day-hire no-questions-asked taxi companies which are typically favored by those with serious criminal records and striking bus drivers.

The bus companies are hoping that protesting against taxis by forcing people to take them will raise public awareness of their campaign while placing pressure on the nation's taxi companies.

If the indefinite nationwide bus strike goes ahead, several major hospitals have already said they may have to reduce the number of doctors and nurses they employ due to a large expected drop in blunt-force trauma injuries.

Related Links
Bus unions warn of strike against new taxi rules
Bus Companies Threaten to Suspend Operations, Strike over Taxi Bill
Some Drunk Drivers to be Banned from Driving Buses
Drunk taxi drivers responsible for 988 car accidents in 2010
Korea has most road deaths in OECD
Korea Ranks 5th Worldwide for Road Deaths
Road Deaths Plummet Following National Taxi Strike
SKorea: Sex criminals easily become taxi drivers
Criminal past checks to be conducted on taxi drivers

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