Expats bring changes to Seoul buses

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Expats bring changes to Seoul buses

When it comes to public transportation in Seoul, many expatriates who are not confident in their Korean-language skills opt to take subways instead of buses.

Although buses do contain English-language route maps, and broadcast the station stops in English, many commuters can’t locate the maps and if they don’t catch the broadcast, they have no idea whether they’ve passed their destination or not.

To address this matter, the Seoul city government will form groups of expat monitors recommended by the Seoul Global Center and foreign embassies here to evaluate the quality of buses which run in run expat-heavy areas: Hannam, Ichon, Itaewon, Seorae and Yeonnam.

Each group will be comprised of about 20 expats whose mission it will be to check the friendliness of the bus drivers and how well the English broadcast service works. The monitors will be “mystery passengers,” like mystery shoppers who visit a store pretending to be customers in order to evaluate the quality of the service.

Comments, suggestions and criticisms from the monitor groups will be reflected in Seoul’s bus policies, the city government announced yesterday.

Seoul city will make the first changes to its bus system based on the feedback from expats in June. Another round of changes will be made in October ahead of the G-20 Summit in November.

The city is also mulling over providing additional foreign-language broadcasts on buses in areas such as Seorae and Yeonnam, where English is not the predominant foreign language. Many French and Chinese expatriates live in Seorae and Yeonnam, respectively.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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