Taxi drivers are becoming lonely
More commuters prefer buses and subways as energy prices rise sharply
|A parking lot at an apartment complex in Suwon, Gyeonggi, is crowded with residents’ vehicles on a recent morning. Many workers are now leaving their cars at home and taking public transportation due to high gasoline prices. [NEWSIS]|
Seoul’s infamous traffic jams have become less of a problem recently as more people take public transportation, including buses and subway trains, in response to rising gasoline prices.
“In recent weeks, the volume of Seoul’s traffic has decreased significantly and the roads are much less crowded wherever I go,” said a taxi driver, who said he has had fewer passengers as people cut expenditures across the board to cope with rising oil prices. “This has led to a decrease in customers. I see more crowded bus stops, with fewer people waving down taxis.”
The average price of gasoline at Seoul’s gas stations last week was 2,009 won per liter ($6.80 per gallon), exceeding the 2,000 won mark for the first time in 34 months, according to the Korea National Oil Corporation. Rising global energy prices are also affecting the cost of diesel fuel and liquid petroleum gas.
Sales of transportation cards have increased significantly recently. According to Seven Eleven yesterday, which includes Buy the Way stores, last month’s transportation card sales, also known as T Money cards, increased 43.8 percent on-year, while credit charges on transportation cards increased 48.9 percent.
Credit charges have been rising since last October, which rose more than 40 percent from October 2009.
For GS25 convenience stores, sales of transportation cards rose by less than 5 percent in January and February on-year, but March sales have risen 68.7 percent so far.
To overcome high oil prices, the Seoul city government yesterday said that it had designated every fourth Wednesday of each month as “public transportation day.”
With the first public transportation day being this Wednesday, it said it will add 221 local buses and increase the frequency of train service on all subway lines except for lines 1 and 8.
“My bus ride to work every morning used to be less crowded and less hectic, but now I am hardly able to sit down and often become squeezed between people since the number of bus passengers increased significantly,” said Kim Sang-hyun, from Seocho-gu, southern Seoul. “Now I head out to work 30 minutes early to avoid all those people that are competing to crowd into the bus.”
By Jung Seung-hyun [email@example.com]