[EDITORIALS]Fare error raises rider distrustSeoul’s bus fare card readers malfunctioned again yesterday. In July, Seoulites had to suffer more than a week of chaos due to the city’s efforts to reform the public transportation system, and we see a recurrence of a similar incident only six months later.
After the report about the malfunction was filed, the city quickly decided that bus users will ride for free until the system is restored. It is at least relieving to hear that not too many commuters quarreled with bus drivers during the morning rush hour.
It is unacceptable to see repeated malfunctions of Seoul’s public transportation system. The city government has been calling its new system a masterpiece that cost 120 billion won ($114 million) and took two years of preparation.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said July’s malfunction was a systemic error, but the wrong input of data was the cause of yesterday’s problem. The city explained that a credit card company inaccurately input fare card user information, and the system became overloaded. The city government said it will repair it to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.
But since one company’s simple mistake triggered the overall malfunction of the system, it is evident that the system lacks capacity, or is unstable. Undesirable hardware can be thrown away, but bad software can create enormous damage.
Of the nine credit card firms, only one company made a mistake, but 57 percent of the 9,000 buses in the city suffered from the malfunction ― a mass disaster.
During last year’s fiasco, the city lost more than 2 billion won per day in fares by providing free rides. In addition, the city also introduced discounted subway ticket packages to please angry riders. More than 100 billion won was spent from the city’s budget for transportation reform, money all from Seoul taxpayers.
We have seen that faulty software and poor administration resulted in enormous damages. Due to yesterday’s incident, Seoul residents’ distrust of the fare card system also grew. Users will inevitably become skeptical about the system.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government must pay more attention to supervising its transportation system instead of bragging about its achievement of introducing the high-tech fare payment system.