Full Operation of Night Bus Services

Back in April we wrote about the beginning of night buses on two routes. The trial was successful with over 220,000 passengers (2,100 people per night!) and so Seoul is going to begin operation of 7 new night lines from September 12. A survey among Seoulites also found out that 88% of the people support bus services throughout the night.

The night buses will also get a special branding: They are going to be called “Owl buses” and this is the concept behind it:

Seoul Night Bus Owl

This map in Korean shows where the nine routes are going to operate:

Routes of Seoul Night Bus


Overview of Seoul Night Bus Lines

The owl buses cover most areas of Seoul. They have similar long routes like the blue buses.

N26: Western Seoul Depot – Jungang Depot (강서차고지~중랑차고지) *already operating since April*

N37: Jingwan Depot – Songpa Depot (진관차고지~ 송파차고지) *already operating since April*

N13: Sanggye-dong – Songpachagoji (상계동~송파차고지)

N16: Dobongsan Depot – Onsu-dong (도봉산차고지~온수동)

N61: Yangcheon Depot – Nowon Station (양천차고지~노원역)

N62:  Yangchoen Depot – Myeonmok-dong (양천차고지~면목동)

N10: Ui-dong – Seoul Station (우이동~서울역)

N30: Gangdong Depot – Seoul Station (강동차고지~서울역)  

N40: Bangbae-dong – Seoul Station (방배동~서울역)

The night buses operate between midnight and five o’clock in the morning. The frequency of buses is very low (30 to 60 minutes between vehicles), so make sure that you don’t miss the bus. This makes the service also less attractive for transfers to other night buses.

During the trial the fare price was only at 1,050 KRW but along the start of the other night lines from September 12 the fare will rise to 1,850 KRW. Of course, the bus drivers of the N-lines will have higher wages than their colleagues of the daily services. They aren’t allowed to work during the day to prevent fatigue. The special features of the bus is that the drivers will be separated by a special partition. This should prevent drunk passengers to to attack or distract the driver. Enjoy the ride through Seoul’s night!

About This Author

Co-Author of Kojects. Interested in Sustainable Transportation, Urbanism and Korea.


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  • […] Update: This trial was successful and now we have 9 night lines operating in Seoul. More information can be retrieved here. […]

    Seoul to Begin Night Bus Services | Kojects 4 years ago Reply

  • I can’t tell clearly from the map – do any of these lines run through Itaewon?

    nicole 4 years ago Reply

    • The Line N40 has a stop at Noksapyeong-Station! This line brings you to Seoul Station, where you can use many other night buses. Or if you have to go south, N40 brings you to Sadang Station, where you can change to N61.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

  • Great article, it would be good to see this copied here in China. I especially like the separated bus driver idea. Any idea what the planned headway will be?

    Gavin 4 years ago Reply

    • Thanks! The headway of the existing two lines (N26 and N37) is 40 minutes in average. There are no information on the frequency of the other lines. I think it’ll be similar. I can tell you more soon, because on Sept 12 the new lines will be added to the real-time information system and then I can look it up.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

  • Thanks for this post! I was in Seoul last year and could never understand why there were no night buses. I’m from a far smaller city that has 1/15th of the nightlife and we have had night buses for quite some time… Anyway, I’m glad they’ve been a success and hope there are new routes to come!

    rebekka (@geuuxx) 4 years ago Reply

  • Great post!

    I do notice some differences with this map published earlier:

    http://cfile24.uf.tistory.com/image/243EEE375104F82514CD19 (linked to via your post http://kojects.com/2013/04/11/seoul-to-begin-night-bus-services/)

    For example, on the previous map, line N6 would have broadly followed the subway line 9 route from the Gangnam area to Dangsan, then passed over Yanhwa bridge and through Hongdae.

    On the new map, that route seems to have been eliminated.

    Was the first map just a guess? Or have changes been made ince it was published? If so, were any reasons announced?

    leifinseoul 4 years ago Reply

    • Hi,

      thank you very much! Wow, you have great eyes for detail! I didn’t compare the original plan with the current one before. The first map was just the first proposal of Seoul Metropolitan Government. During the trial run in the last 4 months, they finalized the routes for the other buses.

      In their official announcement Seoul said that they analyzed “big data” to estimate demand during night. This means that they pinned spatially 300 million phone calls, which have been made during the night. In addition, they tried to get numbers of how money people are in Hongdae or Gangnam or somewhere else at night time. That’s how the lines were adjusted to better fit to the real needs.
      Originally, Seoul only wanted to have 7 night lines but a survey found out that 88% expressed that night buses are necessary and so they added 2 more lines.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

  • it would be great if they integrated these bus lines with Daum/Naver/Google maps so users can actually map their routes late at night from their smart phones. I’ve tried searching to see if they’ve done this, have you found out if this will be integrated with existing apps that people usually use?

    Raymond Chetti 4 years ago Reply

    • The owl lines will be integrated into all map services! I think that it will be done when the service starts tomorrow. It will be possible to get real-time information of all owl-buses and their exact route can be displayed in every map service.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

    • They almost certainly will be – for good reason pilot programs are rarely inserted as authoritative programs. Now that they’re real and happening (and only after I left Korea, tear), look for them when they do a data update.

      Chris Backe (@chrisbacke) 4 years ago Reply

  • Thanks for the follow up. Interesting to hear that two additional lines were added based on survey results.

    Do the dotted/dashed lines (N13, N30) differ in any way? Or were dots and dashes used simply to avoid confusion with other colors?

    As four lines will terminate/pass through Seoul station, will there be any attempts at schedule coordination to facilitate transfers? With a headway of 30-40 minutes and less vulnerability to traffic jams during the night, such an attempt could perhaps make sense. Though if such plans existed, it seems that N26, N62, and possibly N37 which pass in the general vicinity, would have been routed through Seoul station as well to further increase transfer possibilities.

    leifinseoul 4 years ago Reply

    • Hey again :)

      The dotted and dashed lines don’t differ in any way from the other ones. Like you said, it’s just trying to avoid confusion.

      The second question is a tough one because I couldn’t find any information on that. Of course, I would like to say that it’s should be definitely done like this. It isn’t difficult to coordinate six lines. At night the only possible transfer is from night bus to another night bus (or taxi but then they would take taxi in the first place). However, in a worst case scenario you are standing outside and waiting 40 mins for the next bus (imagine that in cold winter!).

      I couldn’t find any timetable of when the bus leaves the depot and reaches Seoul Station/passes through Seoul Station. Seoul is usually providing headways instead of departure time (unlike Germany for example). So the only way for now is to calculate what time they are going to arrive at Seoul Station (detailed information about each line can be retrieved here: http://topis.seoul.go.kr/renewal/notice/NoticeView.jsp?seq=3667). I made some rough calculations and it seems that at least the buses who have Seoul Station as their final stop aren’t coordinated with each other. I will try to make additional observations like looking at real-time information at night.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

  • I am visiting Seoul soon but flight arriving late after 10.30pm, may I know if any of these Owl Bus services help to bring passengers to town from International Airport?
    Can I have the link to the details of the route?

    Jen 4 years ago Reply

    • Hey,

      from the Incheon International Airport to Seoul you have to take a airport limousine bus. It should be no problem around that time. For more information, please go here: http://www.airport.kr/airport/traffic/bus/busList.iia?flag=E

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

      • Hi Nikola,
        Thanks but the last bus is leaving at 10.30pm and we won’t be ready unitl at least 11+pm after clearing of custom and collecting our lugguages. May I know if there is any other alternative besides taxi as it is quite expensive?

        Jen 4 years ago Reply

    • There’s also a train from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station:

      From Seoul Station you can take a taxi or a night bus.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply

  • Hi, my friends and I have an early flight to Jeju (Gimpo Airport @ 6:35AM!) from Jongno. Can we take the N26 bus to take us to Gangseo Garage (nearest to Gimpo)?

    Ara 3 years ago Reply

    • Hi Ara,

      I must admit that’s a difficult time as it’s in the awkward space between the night buses and normal buses starting! The first airport bus from the Jongno area is at 4:40am but you probably don’t want to take the risk. It sounds like you might know where to get the N26 bus from already and according to Daum the last bus is 3:10, which might get you there much earlier than you need to, but it might be your safest choice. If you do, it’ll be easiest to get off at Songjeong Station. It’s also likely that you may not be able to get into the terminal at that time as well so you may have to wait outside or you could go to a PC Room or the 24hr McDonalds while waiting. Hope that helps!

      Andy Tebay 3 years ago Reply

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