June 01, 2005

Dedicated Bus Lanes Central to Renewal of Seoul Transit

Forty kilometers of dedicated median lanes opened on major trunk lines. A trunk-and-feeder system with color-coded buses and an entirely new numbering system replaced the old haphazard route map.

Customers now enjoy up to five free intermodal transfers through the use of new smart cards. Behind the scenes, a fully upgraded IT system makes use of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to monitor buses and routes, and allocate revenues to operators on a flat bus/kilometer rate.

Although long lines and delays marked the first few days of this system overhaul, customers and drivers got over the learning curve and satisfaction increased rapidly. Data gathered by Dr. Gyeng-Chul Kim of the Seoul Development Institute over the five first months of operation indicate that travel time was cut by half in median-lane corridors. Carrying capacity increased six times, and travel time variation decreased by a factor of five. System-wide, the total number of measured trip segments rose by 11%, and a 21% drop in bus-related accidents resulted from improved working conditions for bus drivers.

Following on this success, an additional 120 kilometers of dedicated median bus lanes are currently being implemented. Congestion pricing for low-occupancy cars is being studied. The Seoul Metropolitan Government and the Seoul Development Institute will mark the first anniversary of the reformed transit system with an international forum, “Toward Better Public Transport: Experience and Achievements from Seoul” at Seoul City Hall, July 7-8, 2005.

E-mail inquiries about the forum can be sent to kimej@sdi.re.kr.

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