[EDITORIALS]Transit plan’s error-filled start

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[EDITORIALS]Transit plan’s error-filled start

Seoul embarked on drastic restructuring of its public transportation system yesterday. However, with all the errors and confusion that resulted, the public would be forgiven if it doubted the merits of the new system.
People have agreed that Seoul’s public transportation system needed a major overhaul. Adjusting bus routes had not been possible in the past because of the conflicting interests among route operators, so the city should be applauded for being able to make such a change.
But trying to carry out such a huge plan overnight was too much. After seeing the problems that appeared on the first day, we wonder whether the city government is indulging in a show for its own vanity. We think it’s suspicious that the launching of the new transportation system happened to coincide with the second anniversary of Mayor Lee Byung-bak’s inauguration.
Trying to install bus lanes in the center of the road, restructure bus fares and adjust bus routes all at once was overly ambitious. Moreover, it is hard to understand why the city decided to start the new system on a weekday, when the traffic is heavy.
The city adequately publicized the new system, but most people set out for their jobs and schools in their usual way. The launch date should have been set during school holidays or weekends, when there’s fewer commuters, so that the trial-and-error process could have been shortened.
People who used to catch their buses from the sidewalks now have to move to the center of the road to catch bus, their bus route numbers are changed and the fare system has been restructured to a complicated one. Even worse, some of the transportation card readers at subway stations and buses were out of order.
It was also a difficult day for bus drivers, who must have felt sorry for passengers on the sidewalks flagging them down, not knowing that the bus stop had moved to the center. The drivers also suffered because traffic congestion was even worse than before.
Seoul’s city leaders must check in detail the complaints that citizens made on the first day of the new transit system. Although the system is here to stay, the city must try to improve it by taking into account the errors that have emerged.
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