Student pushes limits of public transport
By Moon Gwang-lip
The favored means of transportation for 26-year-old college student Jun Hyun-jin is BMW - but it’s not the German-made luxury sedan those three little letters evoke. It’s a locally coined word that stands for bus, metro and walking.
A man with a mania for the mass transportation system, Jun believes there is no place you can’t go using public transport, within the country, that is, a belief that he has been pushing to the extreme for over a year.
Since last year, Jun has been experimenting with intra-city buses to see if they can take him to far-flung cities within a day.
His most recent success saw him go from the southern port city of Busan to Seoul on a day in May, traveling only by intra-city bus. It only took 17 hours and 46 minutes, 21 transfers, and 34,860 won ($28.30) from the Nopo-dong bus stop in Busan to the Nonhyeon-dong bus stop in southern Seoul.
With inter-city bus lines, the travel time between the two cities is usually five and a half hours and the cheapest fare is less than 20,000 won.
“People might think this is a waste of time or money,” said Jun, a senior at Ajou University in Suwon, south of Seoul, in a telephone interview on Thursday. “But at least I can show that the roads will never be closed to intra-city buses,” he said. “That is the fun factor, or the educational factor, if you will, of these bus trips.”
Other people Jun knows have already tried to make similar intra-city bus trips, but nobody has received quite the attention from the local media that he has.
“I don’t know why me, but I feel happy,” he chuckled modestly.
His success has come with a lot of careful research and preparation, and more than a little trial and error.
For his Busan-Seoul bus trip, Jun choose to go from Busan to Seoul, not the other way around, because there were more buses heading to the capital city at night.
He took city buses that went through rural areas on their regular routes, but not many of those were available. So he took several nights to search for the bus schedules on the Web sites of regional governments across the country.
He says he tried three other times to take the same trip, but had to give up halfway through after missing connections with buses that operated only once or twice a day.
His next mission, which he hopes to complete during his summer vacation, is to make it across the country by intra-city bus in a week.
Buses are not the only forms of transport Jun is experimenting with. He is also doing a walking project, which has him walking along the subway lines in Seoul. He recently finished walking along line No. 8 in eastern Seoul.
Some might say that his is an eccentric hobby. But he says this is more than a hobby for him.
With a semester left before graduation, Jun is hoping to get a job with the public transportation corporation.
“This is my primary area of interest and I hope to have a chance to contribute to improving the mass transportation system in the future,” he said.