Bus sensors aim to help city find, fix its potholes

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Bus sensors aim to help city find, fix its potholes

Seoul’s buses will soon be enlisted as the newest weapons in the war on potholes.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Thursday announced that it will install sensors on buses to find potholes on the city’s roads. Potholes, holes formed due to a breakdown in the road’s surface, can cause major disruptions in traffic. When buses, or any vehicles, pass over the cracks, rattling and damaged tires often follow.

As of October, there were 74,122 potholes in Seoul. The sensors, equipped with the latest detection technology, alert drivers of nearby potholes so that they can avoid them or choose an alternative route.

Bus drivers welcomed the plan.

“As flooding and the rainy season dragged on last summer, I saw more and more potholes,” said Kim In-bae, who drives bus No. 26. “I should always be on the lookout and try to stay away from them, but it is not always easy.”

The city government began testing the sensors on three buses on Thursday and plans to expand their use to more vehicles. The sensor not only warns drivers of holes but also alerts relevant officials who can have the road patched within 24 hours of receiving a report.

“We noticed that the prevalent potholes on the road severely hamper drivers from operating properly,” said Jeong Si-yoon, a city government official. “But we believe such hassles can be prevented with the adoption of this sensor system because it can inform drivers of neighboring potholes in advance.”

In cities abroad, potholes are a major nuisance. But it is rare for a city government to install a sensor program. Rather, many cities turn toward applications that help out drivers.

Such applications use crowd-sourcing to alert drivers of nearby potholes. These programs directly send a report to government officials. They also allow urban dwellers to report holes and other problems, like graffiti and cracked pavements.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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