The Seoul Metropolitan Government will be implementing a new plan to relieve overcrowding on the subway. The new plan is a preparatory measure in anticipation of the conflict caused by the reduced service frequency of subway trains while the number of passengers continues to increase.
The results of test operations for the second section of Subway Line 9, conducted in February, show that while the average daily number of passengers on Line 9 has increased by 2,748, the number of subway train runs has decreased by 60 runs. For the Gaehwa→Sinnonhyeon section, 25.1% of the day’s passengers are concentrated in the morning rush hour (7~9 am), resulting in a degree of overcrowding that rises as high as 240 percent.
Seoul City has identified the following reasons for the overcrowding: the fact that the subway line travels from residential areas (Gangseo, Yangcheon) to business districts (Yeouido, Gangnam), a preference for express trains during the morning rush hour, a higher number of commuters than predicted, and the lack of adequate alternative means of public transportation.
In response, Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a three-part plan on March 4 to address the issue of overcrowding on Subway Line 9: ➀ increase the number of subway trains, ➁ disperse passengers and increase the carrying capacity during the morning rush hour, and ➂increased promotion of transportation policies to citizens.
➀ Plan to increase the number of subway trains pushed up (70 trains to be added by 2017), with 20 trains to be added by September 2016
The most crucial aspect of the city’s plan to ease overcrowding is pushing up the point at which new subway trains are added to the system. Contrary to the original plan to increase the number of subway trains in 2018, 70 new trains will be added by 2017.
Of these 70 trains, 20 will be added in September 2016, with the remaining 50 to be gradually added until December 2017. In this way, the total number of cars for Subway Line 9 will have increased from 144 to 214 by late 2017.
The city is also considering whether to add an additional 80 cars for the opening of Line 9’s third section (Jamsil Stadium~VHS Medical Center) in 2018.
➁ Absorb demand by adding standby trains during the morning rush hour, operate an express bus service from Gayang to Yeouido(Discontinue its operations on April 20)
Seoul Metropolitan Government also announced an overcrowding relief strategy to be carried out during the early morning rush hour and which will remain valid until the number of trains is increased. The strategy involves adding one four-car standby train during the morning rush hour, operating an express bus (8663, yellow bus) from Gayang to Yeouido exclusively during the morning rush hour, posting signs that show the number of passengers per station during the morning rush hour, and introducing an early bird discount system (first train~06:30).
With the addition of one standby train during the morning rush hour, the express train from Gimpo International Airport to Sinnonhyeon Station can make two more runs. The extra runs can accommodate 3,400 people (approximately 6% of the crowd volume) and are expected to reduce the crowding during rush hour.
An express bus (8663) exclusively for the morning rush hour began operation on February 26. Traveling between Gayang and Yeouido, 15 buses now make three runs each for a total of 45 runs, which can accommodate approximately 18 percent (2,100) of the 11,000 commuters who travel from Gayang to Yeouido each morning. If passengers can be dispersed in this manner, the crowding of express trains in the Yeomchang-Dangsan-Yeouido section is expected to decrease. The bus fare is KRW 850.
Signs showing the number of passengers per subway station will be posted at each station and updated at 30-minute intervals so that citizens can choose to avoid those time blocks with the most severe crowding. The early bird discount system will give those passengers using the subway from the first available train until 6:30 am a 20~30 percent discount, thereby dispersing the concentration of passengers during the crowded time blocks.
(Unit: No. of people)
➂ Increased number of safety agents, voluntary participation in crowd dispersal measures encouraged (e.g., increased promotion of dispersal measures to residents and companies near Line 9)
Campaigns and announcements will be utilized to prevent accidents that may occur due to overcrowding on the subway and to ease overcrowding through voluntary efforts by citizens. The number of safety agents on duty will be increased from 54 to 60 during the morning rush hour, while a sticker that directs passengers to stand in four lines will be placed on the floor at each boarding point. The bulletins and intercom announcements warning against excessive or risky means of boarding a subway train will be increased.
Also, for companies located in the Yeouido, Seocho-gu and Gangnam-gu areas which have at least 100 employees, if at least 30 percent of employees apply for the Flexible Work Hours program, a discount of up to 20 percent (one-time offer) for fees incurred due to traffic congestion is provided.