Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit (SMRT) is investigating the possibility of operating subway services around the clock on one of its lines for one day a week.
On March 11, SMRT announced that it has plans to add overnight services to Line 7 on Saturday mornings from 1am to 5am. Services would operate every 20 minutes throughout the night between Jangam (장암) and Onsu (온수) Stations. The extended section of Line 7 from Onsu to Bupyeong-gu Office (부평구청) will not be included in the trial.
Currently, Friday night subway services on Line 7 stop at 1am on Saturday morning and start again around 5:30am.
SMRT says that it plans to follow in the footsteps of other cities overseas, such as New York and London, which operate 24 hour trains. Having completed preliminary investigations, the company will now meet with researchers and aim to get the trial underway in the second half of next year.
Fares for the early morning services will likely be more expensive, SMRT saying that a different system would be adopted to cover the extra cost and added convenience provided. The cost of hiring more staff and improving facilities for the trial is estimated to cost 2.6 billion won.
While nothing is set in stone yet, it’s exciting news and something that many residents have been wanting for a long time. In 2013, Seoul trialed night bus services across the city and ended up adding seven other routes after the trial was a success.
It’s hoped that trialing all-night services will also reduce road congestion, particularly in popular areas such as Gangnam which Line 7 travels through.With most public transport stopping at around 1am on Friday nights, there is often a rush for the final bus or train, and catching a taxi in the early hours can also be a challenge due to the number of people heading home after a night out on the town.
If the Line 7 trial proves popular, then there is a possibility that we’ll see similar services on other lines. If this happens it will be interesting to see whether taxi drivers come out in opposition of such services.