Though some thought the day would never come, the Yongin Everline finally opens on April 26 for service following an opening ceremony which begins at 3pm. Using the line will be free all weekend and fares will be collected from April 29. Despite construction on the line being completed almost three years ago in June 2010, plans to open the line were thrown into turmoil after various disputes between Yongin City and YongIn Everline, including a spat over the minimum revenue guarantee (MRG) for the project.
Despite the line opening there is not much fanfare, and various articles are popping up in the media outlining problems with the line, with doubts from citizens about how useful it will be and whether it will indeed open on the decided date this time. The Joongang Daily reports that passenger estimates have been reduced from an original 161,000 to a mere 32,000. The article also talks of a lack of ticket machines and facilities in stations, though these have often been installed last minute at the opening of metro stations.
One other thing that has been changed right before opening is the name of Gugal Station, which will be renamed Giheung Station to match the Bundang Line station of the same name that is directly next to it. At the moment there is no way to directly transfer, between the lines and it is hoped that a path linking the two will be completed by the end of the year. It is unclear whether leaving the station may still let you transfer, as is the case with lines 1 & 9 at Noryangjin Station.
In a contract with YongIn Everline, Yongin city has agreed to provide financial assistance of 29.5 billion won in operating costs. The city also has plans to procure 300 billion won from Consus Asset Management as a new investor in the next 2-3 months, as well as carry out a restructuring of current investors.
While some citizens will be happy that they can finally use their new mode of transport, others want answers and recently at a press conference about the line, a citizen’s group which wants to audit the entire project called for the opening to be cancelled while demanding transparency regarding the deal. Some even became violent and had to be subdued by security guards as details of the contract were kept private.
Whether the line will continue to be a white elephant remains to be seen, but it will no doubt be a relief for many to finally see the line being used instead of the inactive eyesore it was for so long.
Read more about the YongIn Everline and where it goes in our previous post.