Seoul / New page in public transit system in Seoul – Re-organization of bus route

Despite the great success of the Cheonggyecheon Linear Park as evaluated by both local and foreign parties, one of the huge obstruction of the project at its commencing stage was the public’s worry on large scale traffic congestions and chaos upon the demolition of the expressway. With a daily usage of 170,000 vehicles, the Sam-il Expressway served as the major connection between the East and West of Seoul.

Highway in 1970s
Sam-il Expressway in the 1970s

Considering the possible chaos on the first working day after the closing of Sam-il Expressway on 1st July 2003, Mayor Lee Myung-bak worked closely with the Traffic control committees to carry out traffic diversion tests with a primary observation period of 2 weeks. One of the major traffic management measures that followed was the re-organization of bus routes. All the bus routes which were originally privately-run were re-collected by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. In 2004, the year after the Cheonggyecheon revitalization project has commenced, the Seoul Metropolitan Government further announced the adjustment in the public transportation system. Bus routes were simplified after the analysis on the frequency of usage of the bus routes which were highly overlapping and redundant before. Four different categories of buses, namely the Blue, Green, Red and Yellow buses, were established. They were also named with new bus numbers that enable passengers to identify their departure spot and destination more easily. The bus fare system was also changed from a fixed-rate to a differentiated travelling-distance-dependent one which is integrated with the subway fare system. In short, the bus routes have now been arranged in a more efficient and clarified system and the integration of subway and bus fare system reveals that the transport network is considered holistically for the entire Seoul, including the sub-urban areas of it.

Division of Seoul into District Areas
Division of Seoul in District Areas

The demolition of the Sam-il Expressway signified a new page in the traffic management in the city of Seoul. It can be viewed as the watershed between the industrial and vast development-fueled 1970s, since which more than 100 elevated expressways and overpasses were built in Seoul, and the post-industrial age of 1990s, since which clean and efficient transportation system is more valued. With the lessons learnt from the industrial era, the concepts of speed, efficiency and use of technology still remain, yet the environmental consciousness has also been on the surge with the development of Cheonggyecheon Linear Park as the spearhead.

1. Korea Tourism Organization. 2015. New Bus System of Seoul. July 27. Accessed December 7, 2015.
2. Korea Joongang Daily. 2004. Less concrete, better views. January 9. Accessed December 7, 2015.
3. Yi, Myŏng-bak. 2006. 1% de ke neng: Han’guo Shou’er : Li Mingbo de meng xiang qi ji. Taibei Shi: Da guan chu ban shi ye you xian gong si.

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