Safe Taxi Services

Date 2014-06-11 Category Transportation Updater scaadmin
Last Update


A foundation laid for providing safety services in 2007: Call Taxi Safety services

Seoul City established a plan for revitalizing call taxi in March 2007; published a want ad to attract companies in March, held an exhibition of equipment in April in order to launch brand call taxis, reviewed designs in September, and finally launched Seoul City Call Taxi in December 2007. Afterwards, Seoul City required brand call taxi companies to provide safety services. At that time, only 20,000 taxis applied as call taxis, but later, as all of them began providing brand call taxi safety services free of charge, Seoul City was able to lay a foundation for the provision of safety service. Since the foundation for the provision of safety services became stabilized in 2007, more than 40,000 residents have been able to receive safety services each year.

Expanded safety services and diverse methods of providing services in 2011: Card Taxi Safety service

Seoul City planned to provide safety services using card approval devices in 2011, in order to expand safety services. Subsequently, Seoul City, together with Korea Smart Card Co., investigated the validity of the Card Taxi Safety service project and the required expenses in January. From the results of the investigation, Seoul City was able to review the possibility of providing a more advanced form of safety services than its existing brand call taxi safety services by adding a GPS system to the installed card approval device. This way, residents would be able to get information about the location of taxis in real time. Later, in February, Seoul City explained the planning of the Card Taxi Safety service Project to the Labor Union of taxi drivers. Seoul City asked taxi drivers and companies to add GPS to their existing credit card approval device and encouraged them to voluntarily participate in the project. The planning was implemented smoothly, and taxis were equipped with GPS, and after several test operations, the services began from August 2011.


Under the “Safe Taxi Services”, residents could use taxis without worrying about their safety. If socially-vulnerable people such as women and children take a taxi at night, this service provides such information as the taxi’s license plate number and boarding time, transits locations automatically by sending text messages to a designated overseer, and the overseer can then check the moving route of the taxi in real time via their smart phone or the Internet. As a result, Seoul residents started to feel safe about taking taxis again.

“Removal of the factors that may cause crimes”

Among the factors that may cause crimes, the possibility of anonymity and concealment are major factors. In that sense, the Taxi Safety service makes taxi drivers aware of the fact that the information about their taxi operation will be provided to a third party, and this will prevent them from even considering committing a crime. In actuality, only a few taxi drivers commit crimes using their taxis. Even if just a few commit a crime, however, investigation agencies will be able to obtain information about the location of a taxi driver who committed a crime immediately after the occurrence of the crime, and arrest the suspect. Thus, this service will be able to reduce the chances of a crime from occurring.

Background and Goal

 In 2007, a shocking incident happened in Seoul. This so-called “Hongdae Murder Incident” was widely reported in the media. According to the report, two female office workers in their 20s were reported missing, but later found dead, and the culprit of the crime was found to be a taxi driver, sending shockwaves through society. At the time of the incident, the taxi driver raped and strangled the two women to death and dumped their bodies near the Hangang River.

 Until then, most Koreans thought that taxi drivers were safe, but after this horrible incident, people began to fear taking taxis. Particularly, women’s fears about taking a taxi at night escalated. This is because such taxis used for sex crimes usually target women going home late at night. Many residents stopped taking taxis at night. Some men, who would send their date home by taxi, would even memorize or jot down the license plate number of the taxi, and such behaviors became a kind of social norm.


Trial Strategy

“Induce competition among companies to provide differentiated safety services: Call Taxi Safety service”

Seoul City designated four companies as centers to provide safety services, and induced competition between these companies to provide differentiated safety services. Seoul City conducted evaluations of these companies every half term, and provided incentives to companies who faithfully provided safety services. Accordingly, these companies started providing differentiated safety services. For instance, SK Navi Call provides not only the location of their passengers to the passengers’ designated overseer when they provide safety services, but they also provide injury insurance services so that the insurance coverage will pay up to 10 million won if their passengers are involved in an accident while taking their call taxi. In the case of KT K-TAXI, they provide information about passengers’ locations real-time to their designated overseers. As such, Seoul City was able to revitalize residents’ use of the safety service by inducing competition among taxi companies. 

“Expand the provision of safety services by using existing infrastructures: Card Taxi Safety service”

Seoul City took advantage of the fact that 98% of taxis running in Seoul were equipped with a card approval device. This was because if providing safety services could be offered by simply using a credit card approval device, most of the taxis in Seoul would be able to provide these services. Accordingly, in cooperation with Korea Smart Card Co., which is in charge of supplying card reader to taxis, Seoul City decided to provide a new form of safety services using a method of automatically transmitting passengers’ locations to their designated overseer when passengers pay their taxi fares with a credit card. This planning was implemented in early 2011, and it has been providing card taxi safety services in full swing to Seoul residents since August 2011.


Obstacles And Overcome Method

Obtain approval from taxi drivers before providing safety services

Safety services are a type of service that provides information about the location of a taxi, so the consent of taxi drivers is required. If information about the location of taxi drivers is collected and provided without the drivers’ consent, it violates Korea’s regulations on the protection and use of location information. To resolve such problems, Seoul City is collecting consents on the use of location information from taxi drivers who join the brand call taxi project. Before adding GPS to a credit card approval device of a taxi, Seoul City also collected taxi companies’ consents on the use of location information before providing the Card Taxi Safety service.

However, some taxi companies did not like the fact that Seoul City would collect location information on their taxis, and refused to consent. They were afraid that Seoul City would monitor and control them once the city collected all operational information about the taxi companies. Due to these reasons, Seoul City went through some difficulties in implementing its plan for installing GPS in all taxis by the end of 2011. To resolve these problems, Seoul City once again requested these companies to cooperate with the project, and reassured them that location information collected from taxis would be used only for providing safety services, and not for other purposes. On one hand, Seoul City pressured taxi companies to participate in the project by indicating that they would be at a disadvantage when Seoul City evaluates the services of taxi companies. Eventually, more than 95% of taxi companies consented to provide safety services, and Seoul City was able to install GPS, which allowed for real time location tracking in the entire fleet of taxis run by taxi companies.

Used Resources

Financial Resources: The use of private capital and the preservation of expenses

For the Call Taxi and the Card Taxi Safety services, Seoul City did not allocate additional budgets, but instead used private capital for the projects. In the case of Brand Call Taxi, call centers acquired expenses needed for providing the Call Taxi Safety service by creating revenue: (1) from calling fees earned by taxis and (2) from operating expenses provided by Seoul City. In the case of the Card Taxi Safety service, Korea Smart Card Co., which provides services, acquired expenses needed to provide safety services by selling transportation data collected from taxis, instead of receiving financial assistance from Seoul City. The sale of location information does not contain information about individual taxis, but contains only overall transportation statistics, so it does not infringe on the privacy of each individual taxi.

Technological Resources: The use of IT technology

The Card Taxi Safety service is based on three kinds of technology: a card approval system, GPS location information system, and mobile application. When a passenger pays a taxi fare with their credit card, the information about the passenger, along with the location information about the taxi collected by GPS, is sent immediately to a designated overseer in the form of a text message. The designated overseer of a passenger can receive information about the taxi that the passenger took and they can also check the location of the passenger in real time on a map.

Human Resources: Stimulation of taxi drivers’ motivation for safety services

A sticker is attached to the exterior of any taxi that provides safety services, so that residents can tell which taxi offers safety services prior to taking a taxi. As a result, even though taxi drivers do not directly profit by providing safety services, they like offering safety services voluntarily, so the provision of safety services is operating effectively.


Residents’ increased satisfaction with the used of ‘Safety services

Even though Seoul City’s taxi “safety services” were very new, many residents started to use this service. In the case of “Call Taxi Safety service”, it was introduced in December 2007, and a total of 170,295 people used the services in a span of four years, and number of services reached 199,257 cases. Some 1,818 people are requesting new services, and monthly service cases are 7,532. The Card Taxi Safety service was introduced in August 2011. Even though this service only began a short time ago, some 25,000 people have already applied for the use of this service via smart phone application or website. Once residents have used this service, they can comment on their experiences with the service on their blogs and share information about how to use the service with other residents, voluntarily promoting Seoul City’s policy. As such, residents’ positive responses about the Taxi Safety service are encouraging the possibility of developing the service into a more evolved form along with the development of IT technology.

Recovery of citizens’ trust in the use of taxis

When the taxi-related crime occurred in 2007, sending shock waves across society, and residents’ fear about using taxis at night increased, Seoul City was able to increase people’s psychological feelings of safety and block citizens’ distorted fears expanding across the community by taking swift measures for providing safety services to residents. Due to Seoul City’s timely implementation of appropriate policies, it could recover residents’ trust rapidly, which might otherwise have cost more and taken more time and effort, the right time was missed.

Revitalize the use of safe services with Seoul City’s leading administration

The safety services are meaningful in that Seoul City led the provision of this new form of service. If one is looking at other cases of policies, most of the time, widely used technology is applied later to policies, but in the case of the safety services, Seoul City could attract citizens’ interests by swiftly adopting technology for the provision of safety services, and this in turn has led to revitalizing the use of these services. Seoul City was able to increase the effects of policies and residents’ expectations by implementing policies proactively, rather than reactively.


The provision of safety services does not require high technology or capital, so any agency can apply safety services at anytime. Seoul City’s safety services, which use call taxis and taxi card approval devices, represent a good model for other agencies when providing safety services.






Department / Contact

  • Taxi & Logistics division / Younhwo Jung
  • International Relations Division  /  82-2-2133-5276  /  international@seoul.go.kr
  • Megacity Research Center  /  82-2-2149-1418  /  simrc@si.re.kr