Please briefly describe the initiative, what issue or challenge it aims to address and specify its objectives. (300 words maximum)
The government must endeavor to improve the happiness and quality of life of the residents, and for this purpose, one of the important aspects of public administration is to provide convenient mobility to all residents.
Even if the economy develops and infrastructure, such as roads and traffic conditions improve, there will always be residents who will need to use public transportation for reasons such as economic reasons, driving difficulties, road conditions, etc.
Korea is one of the countries where public transportation is well-built, but in rural areas, the population is declining and aging, so there are areas where private transportation companies will not provide public transportation. Therefore, in rural areas, there are a large number of residents who have difficulty using public transportation. In fact, there are more than 300 villages where residents have to walk a long distance to access public transportation.
This initiative started while searching for transportation services that complement the existing public transportation system for residents in areas where public transportation is not readily available and in rural areas where transportation access is limited.
Under this initiative, taxis are normally operated. If a resident requests for a taxi, a taxi will be dispatched. The taxi fare charged is equivalent to that of public transportation, and the balance is borne by the government. Our province tries to contribute to the quality of life and the welfare of residents by providing convenient mobility rights to residents, even those with some financial burden. We called these taxis “Country Village Happy Taxis”.
Please explain how the initiative is linked to the selected category. (100 words maximum)
This initiative plays an important role in creating a sustainable society by creating an equal and fair welfare environment and by providing convenient transportation services to all citizens. The role of public administration is to provide inclusive and equal services to the underprivileged so it should be implemented in various countries.
This initiative conforms to the characteristics of rural areas sparsely inhabited by a small population and it is considered to be an innovative public service provision policy that reforms the existing public transport supply system by make use of taxis in excess supply in the region.
a. Please specify which SDGs and target(s) the initiative supports and describe concretely how the initiative has contributed to their implementation. (200 words maximum)
Securing means of transportation is extremely important for ‘to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’, one of the UN 2030 agendas. Today, due to the development of transportation, most people have no difficulty in moving around, but the farther away from the city, the less available transportation becomes. In rural areas where public transportation is not available, many elderly people have difficulty accessing central hospitals and markets, making it hard for them to manage health and participate in social activities. Accordingly, providing transportation services in which the local governments bear some cost expands social consensus and promoting healthier lives through regional exchange are some of the objectives pursued by UN.
b. Please describe what makes the initiative sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. (100 words maximum)
Although there are many roles of public administration for the well-being of the people, one of them is to guarantee the people's right to move. For this, it is important to provide appropriate means of transportation. This initiative aims to provide transportation services for residents in underprivileged areas and should be supported by the government as a sustainable initiative in the future.
a. Please explain how the initiative has addressed a significant shortfall in governance, public administration or public service within the context of a given country or region. (200 words maximum)
The public transportation services of Korea do not differ significantly from region to region. Even in Chungcheongbuk-do, public transportation relies on government support. As a means of public transportation, large-sized buses operate in urban areas while medium-sized buses operate in rural areas. However, depending on the circumstances in rural areas, there are places where it is difficult to operate buses due to narrow roads and some villages are located far away from the service routes. Therefore, it is inevitable that some villages do not have access to the bus services. This initiative was designed based on the belief that it was the role of public administration to resolve public transportation issues for these underprivileged areas. Under this initiative, we identify the regions where it is difficult to operate bus services and ensure that taxis are dispatched upon the request from residents. Starting from the trial operation in 100 villages in 2015, this initiative has expanded its operation to 315 villages in 2019, resolving the difficulties of residents in vulnerable areas in terms of transportation.
b. Please describe how your initiative addresses gender inequality in the country context. (100 words maximum)
Usually, older people tend to live in rural areas and the proportion of women is much higher. Although it is the women who need transportation services more than men as women have to buy household goods more than men for an instance, it is more difficult for women to access transportation other than public transportation. There is no inequality in this initiative as it can be used by anyone, regardless of age, as long as they are residents of the region concerned.
c. Please describe who the target group(s) were, and explain how the initiative improved outcomes for these target groups. (200 words maximum)
Although the users of Happy Taxi are based on requirements that there are more than 10 people residing in a village and that the village has to be located more than 0.7km away from a bus station, these criteria can be adjusted and implemented in accordance with the circumstances of each city and county and the criteria is likely to be eased.
Village residents can use the Happy Taxi when moving from township to destinations in towns and can use the Happy Taxi service to come back home. Users only have to pay an amount equivalent to or less than the public transportation fees for using the Happy Taxi service and the balance is subsidized by the government.
a. Please describe how the initiative was implemented including key developments and steps, monitoring and evaluation activities, and the chronology. (300 words)
This initiative started as an election pledge of the Governor of Chungcheongbuk-do in 2014, and the criteria for selecting a target village was based on villages with more than 5 households or 10 residents and the village had to be located more than 0.7km away from a bus stop. In the initial stage, the Happy Taxi service was available 3 times a day from the village in township unit to destinations in towns but currently, number of times residents can use the Happy Taxi service is set on a monthly basis and the residents can call the taxi whenever they need it.
In 2015, about 24,400 people used the Happy Taxi service in the pilot phase, but in 2019, about 338,000 people utilized the said service.
The cost of the Happy Taxi ride is equivalent to the public transportation fare rate, and the balance is borne by the provincial government or municipalities.
Initially, it was implemented by Chungcheongbuk-do Province in cooperation with cities and counties and the provincial budget was used for this initiative. However, according to an interim evaluation and inspection conducted in 2016, it was revealed that the residents were extremely satisfied with this service so based on the result, this initiative is being expanded by designating more target villages within the province eligible for this initiative.
In addition, due to the high level of satisfactions in residents of Chungcheongbuk-do, this initiative is currently being expanded to a national level and since 2018, the central government has started to provide financial support as subsidy.
In 2019, with a budget of KRW 3 billion (National budget: KRW 940 million, Provincial budget: KRW 830 million, City and county budget: KRW 1.26 billion) allocated, Happy Taxis were used approximately 290,000 times in 315 villages, transporting more than 340,000 people.
b. Please clearly explain the obstacles encountered and how they were overcome. (100 words)
The most difficult part in operating the Happy Taxi initiative was the financial support. At first, this initiative was operated as a pilot project in a few small villages. With limited budget, it was difficult to expand support in the field of transportation. However, with the increasing number of residents requesting for the expansion of services, we were able to expand support from the welfare perspective and currently, we are even receiving a subsidy from the central government for this initiative.
a. Please explain in what ways the initiative is innovative in the context of your country or region. (100 words maximum)
In Korea, bus is the major local public transportation means and regions without buses didn’t gain much attention. After realizing that not everyone could benefit from bus services, we searched for measures to resolve this. We decided to use taxis. Currently, there is an over-supply of taxis in most of the local areas so local governments are setting a target number of taxis and implementing reduction measures. To ensure that many rural residents receive benefits, an innovative approach was necessary so we decided to allocate a budget boldly for taxi services in areas where public transportation was not easily available.
b. Please describe, if relevant, how the initiative drew inspiration from successful initiatives in other regions, countries and localities. (100 words maximum)
In case of rural areas, unlike urban areas, the demand for transportation is low and is spontaneous so operating bus services according to a fixed timetable is inefficient. In other countries like Japan, on-demand transportation which provides transportation upon demand has been applied. The Happy Taxi for Villages is an on-demand transportation service and it has contributed to the improvement of mobility in rural villages while sustaining the taxi industry as it utilizes taxis that are currently in excess supply.
c. If emerging and frontier technologies were used, please state how these were integrated into the initiative and/or how the initiative embraced digital government. (100 words maximum)
Currently, most of the people who use “Happy Taxi for Villages” are elderly people in rural villages, and most of them call taxis by calling because it is difficult for them to use smart phone apps. However, as the use of smart phones among the elderly is increasing, we are reviewing ways to provide efficient services using smart technologies for convenient use, management of taxi operation, and payment of fares. In addition, along with the development of autonomous driving technology, we are also considering the operation of autonomous vehicles in the future.
a. Has the initiative been transferred and/or adapted to other contexts (e.g. other cities, countries or regions) to your organization’s knowledge? If yes, please explain where and how. (200 words maximum)
Although this initiative is being widely implemented in Korea, we have not confirmed the operation of using taxis in the form of public transportation in other countries. In most countries, although buses are used as the key transportation means, it is not easy to find alternative means in areas where buses are unavailable. In areas where it is difficult to operate buses, small buses could be used, depending on the region, but taxis are considered to be the most suitable means that could be provided at the most affordable cost. This could be the solution to sustaining the taxi industry while adding publicness in regions that are losing competitiveness.
b. If not yet transferred/adapted to other contexts, please describe the potential for transferability. (200 words maximum)
This initiative is already being utilized widely in other cities in Korea, To sustain the initiative, we must rely entirely on government funding. In the future, the economy will continue to grow, and accordingly, the needs of residents and support for welfare are expected to increase. It is difficult for this initiative to be implemented by the private business sectors for profitability so public administration agencies should continue to implement it as a public project.
a. What specific resources (i.e. financial, human or others) were used to implement the initiative? (100 words maximum)
The operating cost of this initiative is partially borne by Happy Taxi users at the cost equivalent to a bus fare and the balance is subsidized by administrative institutions (Local governments, regional governments, and central government).
Happy Taxi is a public service that has to be subsidized by administrative institutions to a certain extent.
b. Please explain what makes the initiative sustainable over time, in financial and institutional terms. (100 words maximum)
In this initiative, the financial burden of administrative agencies is large while the burden of users is small. So, it is necessary to consider ways to reduce public support for sustainable operation. Measures such as delivering packages are being reviewed to improve profits and reduce public support. By delivering packages to the regions close to the service operation areas, it would be possible to gain additional revenue.
a. Was the initiative formally evaluated either internally or externally?
b. Please describe how it was evaluated and by whom? (100 words maximum)
It was selected as an outstanding case of administrative service internally and it was awarded the Grand Prize at the “2015 Government 3.0 Chungcheongbuk-do Outstanding Case Contest” which is held to share and benchmark outstanding cases between institutions.
The contest was evaluated based on creativity, effectiveness, and proliferation potential by five judges and an audience. It has also become one of the exemplary “Rural Transportation Models” that has been funded by the central government since 2018.
In addition, local councils have also evaluated the initiative as an excellent model for residents and positively reviewed the annual budget for it.
c. Please describe the indicators and tools used. (100 words maximum)
The effect of this initiative can be explained by the increase in the number of users. At the first pilot operation, in 2015, it was implemented in 100 villages. As the residents were satisfied with the operation, it has expanded to 330 villages. In 2019, the resident reviewed the initiative positively and about 338,000 residents have used Happy Taxis.
d. What were the main findings of the evaluation (e.g. adequacy of resources mobilized for the initiative, quality of implementation and challenges faced, main outcomes, sustainability of the initiative, impacts) and how is this information being used to inform the initiative’s implementation? (200 words maximum)
The expenses for the operation of the Happy Taxi for Villages were supported by matching provincial and municipal funds, and local taxis were used for transportation. Initially, there were difficulties, such as indifference of taxi operators and a lack of publicity. However, the number of users has increased due to word of mouth and positive feedback. As a result, taxi operators gradually became interested, and we believe that it could become a new solution to the over-supplied taxi industry. This initiative needs to be expanded to improve accessibility in rural villages, and publicity is required so that more rural residents can benefit from the service. In addition, it is necessary to provide more efficient transportation services by implementing policies that could increase the number of passengers per trip.
Please describe how the initiative is inscribed in the relevant institutional landscape (for example, how is it situated with respect to relevant government agencies, and how have these institutional relationships been operating). (200 words maximum)
The Korean government organization consists of three levels: the central government, metropolitan governments (city, province), local governments (city, county). Chungcheongbuk-do, a provincial government, has initiated and implemented the initiative through cooperation with the local governments. Initially, the financial expenses were funded by Chungcheongbuk-do (50%) and the local governments (50%) but from 2018, the central government has allocated KRW 50 million to each municipality, and the province and city/county are bearing 40% and 60%, respectively to cover the balance.
Chungcheongbuk-do has established and implemented the operating standards for this initiative, and the local governments, such as cities or counties have adapted them according to local conditions.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development puts emphasis on collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and inclusion. Please describe which stakeholders were engaged in designing, implementing and evaluating the initiative and how this engagement took place. (200 words maximum)
The role of the local public administration institutes is very important in order to implement this initiative. The strong willpower to realize equal and universal transportation welfare for all residents is essential. In addition, it can only be implemented if there are taxi service providers that reside and operate in rural areas. In Korea, the taxi transportation business in rural areas is difficult to be sustained economically due to the lack of users and the decreasing users. However, taxis in rural areas play an important role for people with disabilities or in urgent cases taxis are essential in rural areas. Although this initiative is difficult to be managed, this initiative can help sustain the taxi industry in rural regions while providing services to residents.
Therefore, this project requires cooperation and partnerships between local governments and taxi operators.
Please describe the key lessons learned, and how your organization plans to improve the initiative. (200 words maximum)
In most countries, the population in rural areas is small and more dispersed than urban areas, so it is difficult to provide frequent public transportation in many rural areas. Transportation inconvenience in rural areas leads to inconvenience in life and resident’s complaint on public administration won’t be resolved. One of the tasks that the public administration in rural areas is responsible for is to make rural areas sustainable by improving the rural environment. For this reason, the government needs to engage in more active administration, such as increasing financial support for transportation in rural areas.
Residents who use “Happy Taxi” feel that it is more convenient than any other public transportations.
Chungcheongbuk-do will continue to promote and expand this initiative so that no resident will be left behind. I would like to inform other regions and countries that this initiative of Chungcheongbuk-do has contributed significantly to improving the quality of residents’ lives in villages.
The next phase of this initiative is to improve service efficiency and profitability so that the government's financial and administrative burden could be reduced. Although this is not easy, we are working on it, and we believe that we would come up with a good solution.