Seoul City has confirmed the possibility of commercializing its electric bus service, as the eco-friendly electric buses running on the Namsan Belt Way have gained immense popularity among the public, having carried an average of up to 2,000 passengers per day and a cumulative total of 150,000 passengers during their first 100 days of service.
Seoul City has been operating the eco-friendly Namsan shuttle buses to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city, as a representative project of its program to introduce environmentally-friendly vehicles. The city introduced five electric buses at Namsan, the heart of green air in Seoul, for the first time late last year, and deployed an additional four vehicles after evaluating the two-month test operation, bringing the total number of such buses in service there to nine.
A growing number of people who have had a chance to ride on the buses have posted photos and comments on the electric buses on blogs and SNS services such as Twitter on their own. As a result, the city said Namsan Electric Buses have generated a desire to experience them first-hand among people planning to visit Namsan.
Reuters announced in a TV report that the ‘Electric buses that were put into service by Seoul City are the first such buses in the world to be commercialized,’ adding, ‘Through this bus service, Seoul City is expected to not only improve the city’s air quality, but also to spearhead electric bus technology in the world electric vehicle market.’
Despite their short operational history, the Namsan Electric Buses have attracted keen attention from various foreign cities. Thirty-seven representatives from three countries, namely Japan, Turkey and Chile, have visited the city, revealing the buses’ status as promotional goodwill ambassadors for Korea’s advanced technology.
Based on the results of a review of the nine buses in operation, Seoul City plans to introduce an additional five electric buses during the first half of this year, and eventually run all 14 buses in service at Namsan as electric ones.
Apart from Namsan, Seoul City plans to deploy electric buses on short-distant routes of less than 20 kilometers, including those in Yeouido and Gangnam. Thus, the city aims to introduce a total of 377 electric buses throughout the city by 2014, while continuing to expand their operation thereafter.