No Passengers on Yongin’s Everline

Bundang Line Giheung

The light rail line in Yongin connecting Giheung-Station to Everland operates since a month. We wrote about the opening of this Everline and all the issues after the completion. Now after Yongin’s Everline finally opened, the number of passengers doesn’t meet the expectations at all. However, the private operators are going to get their operating costs fully covered by Yongin City.

The first two days of operation looked very promising. I remember that I saw pictures where the trains were packed with passengers. What could be the reasons for this? On the first weekend the usage of Yongin’s Everline was for free. The second reason is that it was a new line and some kind of a tourist attraction. People wanted to try it out. Especially citizens of Yongin, who live with the completed elevated constructions since three years, could finally take a look at it from the inside.

The amount of passengers was monitored and a result about the the first month was published. The Joongang Daily wrote a very detailed article about the result. Less than 30 percent of the forecast are using Yongin’s Everline. On average 9,421 people use it per day. There are around 24 people in each train. Of course, the trains are smaller than the vehicles of Seoul Metro. Each Everline train can transport a maximum of 226 people. The forecast of the Gyeonggi Research Institute in 2011 was 32,000 passengers per day.

The reason for these calculations lies in the wrong expectation of population development and residential units in this area. Everland (with Carribean Bay) and the Korean Folk Village are major attractions in that area but they alone aren’t able to attract people to use the Everline. Even if, this would mean that most of the users would use the LRT on holidays and weekends. It also connects four universities (Kangnam University is in walkable distance to Giheung-Station), which is a nice idea. I think that most of the universities have shuttles to larger transport hubs or they have Gyeonggi-buses.

 

Main Problem: Too Expensive

The obvious problem of the Everline is that it doesn’t allow free transfer from other public transport. So people, who took the Bundang-Line to Giheung, would rather transfer to a local bus instead of using the Everline. Usage of the Everline costs 1,100 KRW, which is in comparison to free transfer (or 100 to 200 KRW for long-distance transfer) too much. Yongin Everline has to be integrated into Seoul Metropolitan’s fare-system. That sounds easy but private operators and officials have to agree on this matter. I don’t know all details of the problem but I think that after the three year-long dispute between the operators and Yongin, they won’t easily agree on that. Other problems are that the LRT doesn’t bring you faster to your destination, except if the streets are very congested.

Now, the tricky thing is that the operators don’t have to care a lot about low revenue, because if they aren’t possible to cover their costs, the government has to pay them for the next 30 years. That’s how the PPT was arranged. I believe that without such an agreement, they would have already made free transfer possible. Actually, without this agreement, the Everline would have never been built in my opinion. The Joongang Daily’s article also mentions that Yongin took very high debts for this project and so they aren’t able to finance any other projects like bike lanes or road extensions.

About This Author

<p>Co-Author of Kojects. Interested in Sustainable Transportation, Urbanism and Korea.</p>

6 Comments

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  • Ah, what a shame! I took the Everline shortly after it opened (and left a comment on Koject’s post about its opening). It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a really great service and I really hope more people take it. I totally agree with Nikola that the main sticking point is not being able to transfer for free with a T-Money card. For someone like me who would only use the line occasionally, the extra 1100 won is no big deal. But for someone who uses the line for a daily commute, the costs would really add up. I really hope officials can think of some creative ways to increase the ridership because I love to see people get out of cars and off buses in favor of rail transport. Thanks for the informative post, Nikola, and let’s keep our fingers crossed!

    James 5 years ago Reply


    • Hey James,

      thanks for your comment!

      You’re totally right, creative ways to increase ridership are necessary. Yongin City asked citizens to submit ideas and until last Friday they received 262 proposals. I’ll write about that in another blog post later.

      Nikola 5 years ago Reply


  • Sweet deal for the contractors! Absolutely no risk of loss; only lots of guaranteed revenue! But as you suggest, EverLine would not exist were it not for that and all the downsides that come with it. Perhaps the private operator can be pressured into accepting a Seoul Metro tie-in, or maybe a legal work-around can be found, so that EverLine becomes a more affordable option for many riders. However, as you and Korea JoongAng Daily’s article point out, the slow-moving, frequently-stopping train – often one of three that riders would have to take on a trip – loses out to popular express buses at present, even without considering ticket price. It might take a while before the benefits of EverLine are fully realized, and even then those might not outweigh the great cost. Assuming that the project was undertaken with pure intentions, EverLine would seem to be a somewhat ill-conceived stop-gap measure, leaving few truly satisfied.

    Kasif 5 years ago Reply


  • People are creatures of habit. It’ll take time for some people to ride the new line. Do you remember when the airport subway line first opened? for the first year it was nearly empty, except around holidays.
    Another small item to mention is that it takes time for newer subway lines to get listed in everyone’s subway map. There are many outdated subway maps out there in publications and on many sites. It takes time for everyone to get the news about new lines. Don’t “pooh pooh” that because i’ve had people swear that there’s no airport line, line #9, or line from Seoul Station to Ilsan because they still use outdated subway maps.

    Stacy Metzger 5 years ago Reply


    • It’s true. And even the official posted subway maps frequently have stickers that say ‘under construction’ when the line has opened. Case in point I still find those construction stickers for the Everline and that opened 6 months ago.

      rickinasia 4 years ago Reply


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