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Vendors follow the buses as they fight isolation

Jan 27,2007
Since July 2004, when bus stops were moved to the median lane of many city roads, vendors have also been leaving their isolated spots by the old roadside bus stops, seeking better locations. Bus stops used to be lucrative spots for street vendors seeking to attract sales from passengers.
“After the bus stop was moved, people began to just sail past my stall without stopping,” said Nam Myung-woo, who sold toast and Korean pancakes from her truck for four years near a bus stop in Mapo, Seoul. “So I moved my stall in front of the crosswalk to target the people going to the bus stop on the median lane,” she added.
Stallholders in Gangnam District have already been concentrated around crosswalks for two years, since the new system was introduced in the district. The metropolitan government introduced the bus-only lane system in July 2004 when the city adopted a new mass transit system. Its key feature was a median lane reserved exclusively for buses.
Seoul Metropolitan Government estimates that there are about 15,000 vendors in Seoul. “Though vendors might experience disadvantages, the new bus system will be continuously introduced to remaining areas in Seoul,” said an official at City Hall who asked not to be named.
Vendors competing to catch the eyes of people waiting for the traffic signal face new difficulties. “Rents [for space] depend on the number of people waiting. Now the rent for the crosswalk area connected to the bus stop is higher than around the old bus stops,” said Jo Young-gi, a real estate agent in Gangnam district.
“More than 10 vendors quit their business in the last two months,” said Shim Chon-taik, head of a vendors union in Seoul. “Vendors have difficulties even in moving their stalls, because they usually face a backlash from shoppers in the new place,” he added.


By Kwon Keun-young JoongAng Ilbo [enational@joongang.co.kr]



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