A gas pump is seen hanging from the ceiling at a petrol station in Seoul June 27, 2011.
A gas pump is seen hanging from the ceiling at a petrol station in Seoul. REUTERS/Jo Yong hak

Hundreds of thousands of South Korean cab drivers began their first nationwide strike Wednesday, demanding higher fares and cheaper fuel, prompting the authorities to run additional bus and subway services.

About 220,000 of the country's 255,500 licensed cab drivers joined the protest, but transport authorities ruled out the possibility of a transportation crisis, saying cabs are not a major part of people's daily commute, according to an AFP report.

Retail prices of LPG, commonly used for most cabs in the country, have surged over 28 percent in the past three years, Kim Do Gil, a spokesman for the taxi association was quoted saying by Bloomberg. The drivers have demanded the government stabilize LPG prices, allow more fuel subsidies and address oversupply of taxi licenses.

The anger of taxi drivers that has long been bottled up is finally exploding on June 20, the union said in a statement.

The drivers' union said fuel providers were pocketing massive profits... while the livelihood of taxi drivers couldn't get worse.

This is our final ultimatum asking for our survival, the statement said.

Taxi drivers discussed their demands with the government June 12, which ended without reaching an agreement. The government was looking into the drivers' demands, Kim Hak Weon, an official at the transport ministry said.

The taxi association has demanded that the government let their vehicles run on other fuels such as diesel apart from the now available LPG.

Cab fare in South Korea is 77 percent cheaper than in Tokyo and 17 percent cheaper than in New York City, states a report by Bloomberg.