A fare hike gives rise to expectationsDo you rush through the closing doors to catch the train or let it go and wait for the next one? Many commuters experience this dilemma every day. The 1998 movie “Sliding Doors” even shows the two paths of life the decision could lead to. But in reality the only consequence is that people get to their destination a few minutes earlier or later. So why do they still run through the closing doors, eager to get into the crowded car?
Commuters using the metro understand the feeling of rushing. The choice will not change their life path, but your commute could be 10 minutes longer. The more you transfer, the more time is added to your journey. If you just barely got up and rushed to work, you do not want to waste precious minutes waiting for the next train. So you run.
Of course, people have different motivations for running to the train, depending on their personality or the situation they are in. But not many people would rush if they knew exactly when trains are meant to arrive or depart at each subway station platform.
The system, not Koreans’ ethnic characteristic of being short-tempered, could be responsible for the fact that many more people run in metro stations in Seoul compared to Tokyo. When I ride the subway in Tokyo, I always find it amazing how complicated the lines are but how accurate the schedule is. The train arrives at the exact minute it says it will, so you do not have to wait too long or rush unnecessarily. Thanks to the accuracy, people can live lives that are more predictable.
Some may argue that the Seoul Metro System also has a set schedule and that various smartphone apps are available, providing departure times. But the problem is that they are not accurately followed and make the passengers run even more. I turned on a number of applications at 7:52 a.m. on a weekday simultaneously. They all indicated that the next train would arrive in four minutes at 7:56 am. However, the train had actually already left the platform at 7:55 a.m. The arrival at the transfer station and the time for the change were all inaccurate. I wonder why the subway service is not provided regularly when it is not affected by traffic like buses.
A Seoul Transport Operation and Information Service official said that the arrival and departure information is received from the each line operator in real-time and that the information is provided through the Seoul metro transit app. But the accuracy should be enhanced by filtering out errors and inaccurate information, and since data has been collected for just one year and six months now, the information is still wrong. The official predicts that a more reliable service will be available by the end of the year.
Seoul will increase the metro fare by 200 won ($0.18) at the end of June. Is it too much to ask for a metro schedule before the fare hike?
The author is the planning editor
of the JoongAng Sunday.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 28, Page 34
by AHN HYE-RI