Korean Bus Drivers Set to Strike

IF YOU’VE EVER had the thought, “Korean taxis are so cheap; why bother taking the bus?” then you might’ve been onto something. And that something has led to a bus strike on Thursday, November 22 and possibly not ending for a while.

A total of 48,000 buses will stop tomorrow, 2,511 of which run through Busan’s 132 daily routes. Seoul will be hit a bit harder, with some 7,500 buses running over 360 routes carrying approximately five million passengers.

“There has not been a single public hearing on this issue, though we’ve expressed our position to the parliament and parties. This is nothing but an impromptu populist measure ahead of the presidential election.

The reason behind the strike is a parliamentary bill, which puts Korea on the road to acknowledging taxis as public transportation. Already, a bill has been passed by a parliamentary committee (read: not everyone in parliament agreed yet) that would enable cabs to legally use bus lanes and get some cash compensation from the government. There’s a vote on Friday with the full parliament to see if the rest of the gang agrees.

When Korea’s 17 bus unions got wind of this, they flashed a red light of their own.

“There has not been a single public hearing on this issue, though we’ve expressed our position to the parliament and parties. This is nothing but an impromptu populist measure ahead of the presidential election,” a bus association official told Yonhap News.

“If the bill passes a floor vote on Friday, we will go on an indefinite strike.”

In an appropriate city response, expect to see way more taxis (and, consequently, way more traffic jams, car horns and impolite lane changes) as well as extended subway hours for Thursday.

Behold the full relevant article on Busan Haps! Timely and informative… almost as if it’s what the media’s there for.

We got yer back, public.

FARE IS FAIR? THE DAY THE TAXIS STOPPED

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED an absence of honking horns on Wednesday, June 20. That’s because four of Korea’s major taxi companies held a nationwide strike for 24 hours—roughly 90,000 drivers, it was expected, though numbers as high as 220,000 have since been tossed around. It’s a big deal not just because there are only around 300,000 cab drivers in the country, but also because it marks the first time cabbies staged a strike in Korea, ever.

Just last year, one driver made headlines by hanging himself in his home after he couldn’t pay his company’s mandatory bills.

A brief news feature for Haps.