Seoul to raise prices of bus, subway rides

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Seoul to raise prices of bus, subway rides

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The Seoul Metropolitan Government said yesterday that it has decided to increase fares for public transportation, including buses and subways, for the first time in five years.

The city government said that the fare increase plan was passed at a meeting that was organized by a policy committee on Monday and agreed to increase all city public transportation fares by 150 won as early as mid-February. The city government said Mayor Park Won-soon will give an official statement regarding the fare increase on Thursday.

From the new price policy, the fares for all buses in the capital city will be increased from 900 won ($0.80) to 1,050 won, and the fare for the subway managed by the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation - subway lines 1 to 4 - will also be increased from 900 won to 1,050 won. The city government said that this fare is applied when passengers use a T-money transportation card. The current fare for cash payment is 1,000 won, and the fee will be raised to 1,150 won.

The fare for some of the intercity, express buses - the red buses that connect Seoul and Gyeonggi - will also be affected. The fare for those buses that didn’t receive a fare hike in 2011 will be increased from 1,700 won to 1,850 won. The city government said the new fare is going to be applied only for those bus lines whose business licenses are registered in Seoul.

“The inflation in operation cost, including cost of fuel and personnel expenses, in the last five years is the primary reason,” said Lee Byung-wook, an official at the City Transportation Headquarters of Seoul Metropolitan Government told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “The cost for fuel has increased about 40 percent over the last five years, and personnel expenses have increased about 15 percent.”

Other than the inflation, the city government said that the free subway ticket system, which provides unlimited free subway rides to adults more than 65 years of age and children under 6, has also contributed to the hike.

The city government said that an estimated average of 230 billion won in losses are being generated every year due to the free ticket system, and the total estimated loss produced in the last five years is about 1.5 trillion won.

The city government said it has demanded the central government compensate for the 222.8 billion won loss that was generated last year.

“The debts that are being produced every year are imposing a heavy burden on the city government,” Lee said. “And it eventually has imposed a burden on citizens.”


By Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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