Map apps offer tips to beat the Chuseok traffic

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Map apps offer tips to beat the Chuseok traffic

Korea’s top navigation apps have released their projections on the best and worst times to travel from Seoul to the provinces for the Chuseok harvest holiday.

The three-day Chuseok holiday starts on Sunday, but the government granted a substitute holiday on Wednesday, as Sunday is already a day off. The Chuseok holiday season is considered to run from Friday night until Wednesday.

SK Telecom, which operates the country’s largest mobile navigation app, T Map, advised drivers headed for Busan or Gwangju to leave Seoul before 10 a.m. on Friday or after 3 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday based on its analysis of traffic data accumulated over the last five years.

The worst traveling hour for people heading to Busan from Seoul will be around 11 a.m. on Monday. The mobile carrier said it would take more than eight hours to travel from Seoul to the coastal city then. If there’s no traffic, Seoul residents can reach Busan in a little over four hours.

As for travelers to Gwangju, SK Telecom said the worst time to leave Seoul would be 4 p.m. on Friday.

For those traveling back to Seoul from Busan or Gwangju, the mobile carrier suggested leaving before 8 a.m. on Monday or after 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

The KakaoNavi app, operated by Kakao Mobility, also disclosed its own projections based on data it accumulated since 2011.

Kakao advised drivers to leave Seoul between 6 and 8 p.m. on Sunday if they are headed to Busan. The company said the trip would only take about 4 hours and 30 minutes at that time.

Kakao also gave exact times for travelers leaving Seoul for Gwangju, Daejeon, Daegu and Ulsan as well. It said the best time to leave for Gwangju will be 6:40 p.m. on Sunday. For Daejeon it will be 7:40 p.m. and for Daegu and Ulsan it will be 7 p.m.

For those traveling back to Seoul from different destinations, the company suggested that drivers leave after 8 p.m. on Monday. Both companies, however, said that traffic will generally move at a crawl on highways on Monday until late at night.

As drivers tend to be increasingly dependent on navigation apps during the holiday period to find less congested routes, SK Telecom spokesperson said it has secured extra server capacity for T Map. Last year, some navigation apps, including OneNavi, malfunctioned during the holiday due to traffic overloads.

It is also gearing up to secure stable network connectivity during the holiday season, as failed data connections on roads could cause chaos even if the apps work well.

According to SK Telecom, T Map usage increases by 51.5 percent and LTE data usage increases by 11.3 percent during the Chuseok season. To provide stable telecommunications networks, the mobile carrier added data capacity at existing base stations and extra WiFi equipment near dense traffic areas like highways, large discount stores and airports.

It will operate an emergency response team consisting of roughly 2,200 staff members to manage network quality from Friday through Wednesday.

Other carriers are also beefing up their networks. KT designated 700 places, including bus terminals, airports and department stores as areas that will be reinforced. The carrier said it plans to use 590 staff members to monitor LTE base stations in these areas around the clock. LG U+ said it will also operate an emergency response team to monitor its telecommunications network from Saturday through Wednesday.

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