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Posted : 2012-03-14 18:54
Updated : 2012-03-14 18:54

Seoul to crack down on illegal ‘call vans‘

By Kim Rahn

Seoul City will step up its crackdown on illegally-operating “call vans,” or vans for luggage-carrying passengers, in Seoul following incidents of foreign travelers being cheated.

It said Wednesday 48 city officials will regularly monitor such illegal operations at major tourist districts including Dongdaemun, Myeong-dong and Jongno.

The measure came after it was reported that a Japanese traveler taking a call van was forced to pay 330,000 won for 2 kilometers from Dongdaemun to Chungmuro in January, and the driver locked the door to confine her until she paid. The charge should have been 4,500 won if she took a legally operating large-sized cab called a“Jumbo Taxi.’”

“The existence of illegal call vans damages Seoul’s reputation. We started clamping down in February ahead of the peak travel season in spring. We will seek to root out the practice through tougher punishment by revising related laws,” said Baek Ho, city’s transportation policy bureau director general.

Call vans usually seat three to six persons and are registered as vehicles for “cargo,” which only carry passengers with over 20 kilograms of luggage. Unlike taxis, the fare is not decided according to metered distance but through an agreement between the driver and the passengers before departing.

Some call vans have been found to disguise themselves as taxis for foreigners who don’t know Korea’s transportation regulations. “Misusing the rule that they cannot install a meter, some charge ridiculous fares to foreign tourists,” Baek said.

Other illegal activities include: call vans attaching “van taxi” signs instead of “cargo”; installing a meter; charging unreasonable fares by fabricating the meter; installing a taxi-like lamp on top of the car roof; remodeling three seaters into six seaters to get group tourists; and attracting foreigners by attaching signs such as “Japanese-speaking driver.”

“Those cargo vans look similar to a Jumbo Taxi. Even Koreans can’t easily distinguish the two types of vehicles, and with the illegal meters, foreigners are easily deceived,” he said.

The city launched the crackdown on Feb. 20, and has caught 26 illegal operations.

Besides the clampdown, the city government is operating an email account: happyride@seoul.go.kr, where foreign passengers can easily report illegal operations or being cheated.

Pervious reporting system required them to leave personal information such as phone numbers.

“Foreigners can email in English, Chinese and Japanese. To confirm the illegality, we need them to attach a photo of the vans’ license plates,” Baek said.

The city has posted information about how to report call van illegality and how to distinguish call vans from jumbo taxis on Seoul tourism-related websites.

Along the measures, the city government will promote changes in related laws together with the Ministry of Construction, Transport and Maritime Affairs to root out such unlawful operations.

“The punishment is only 60 days of operation suspension or a 600,000 won fine. We’ll seek heavier punishment including license cancellation. We’ll also promote to have call vans adopt a meter-rate system like taxis,” Baek said.
관련 한글 기사

서울시, 바가지 콜밴 불법영업 '뒷북 단속'

외국관광객 밀집지역에 48명 배치, 신고 이메일 개설

서울 사정에 어두운 외국인 관광객에게 터무니없는 바가지요금을 물리는 콜밴 불법영업 단속에 서울시가 나섰다.

그러나 시가 내국인을 상대로 한 콜밴 바가지요금에는 뒷짐을 지고 있다가 외국인 관광객이 피해를 본다는 여론의 지적에 뒤늦게 '면피성 대책'을 내놓는 것 아니냐는 지적이 나온다.

시는 오는 4~5월 관광 성수기를 앞두고 동대문, 명동 등 외국 관광객이 많이 찾는 지역에 단속 공무원 48명을 배치하고 상시 집중단속을 한다고 14일 밝혔다.

시는 콜밴이 화물자동차인데도 택시처럼 운행하면서 외국인에게 많게는 수십 배 넘는 요금을 물리고 있어 대책을 마련하게 됐다고 설명했다.

시가 제시한 콜밴의 불법영업 유형은 ▲택시 문구 부착 ▲택시 갓등 및 미터기 설치 ▲조작된 미터기를 통한 부당요금 ▲외국인 단체손님 호객영업 ▲6인승 콜밴의 격벽 제거 등이다.

시는 집중단속과 함께 외국 관광객이 손쉽게 신고할 수 있도록 '콜밴 불법영업 신고 전용 전자메일'(happyride@seoul.go.kr)을 개설했다.

해외 주요 포털과 책자에 피해신고 방법을 알리고 콜밴과 대형택시 구별법 등의 홍보도 강화하기로 했다.

시는 불법행위가 적발되면 처벌을 벌금형에서 영업허가 취소로 강화하는 방안을 국토해양부와 협의하기로 했다.

이밖에 외국인이 편리하게 이용할 수 있는 외국인 관광택시를 397대에서 연내에 500대로 늘리고 2014년까지 32곳에 382대분의 도심 관광버스 주차장을 확보할 방침이다.

그러나 평일 심야에 내국인을 태우고 바가지요금을 씌우는 화물 콜밴이 도심을 버젓이 운행하는 것이 어제오늘 일이 아닌데 시가 뒤늦게 대책을 내놓고 부산을 떤다는 지적이 나온다.

'콜밴 바가지요금 피해 경험이 있다'고 밝힌 회사원 임모(40)씨는 "시가 시민을 상대로 한 일반택시의 승차거부와 부당요금 징수가 비일비재한데도 실질적 개선에 나서지 않다가 최근 외국인을 상대로 한 콜밴의 바가지요금이 언론에서 이슈화하니 이벤트성 대책을 내놓는 것"이라며 "형평성은 물론 실효성도 떨어지는 전형적인 뒷북 탁상행정"이라고 지적했다. (연합뉴스)


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