The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced the launch of a new “Premium Gold Express” (PGE) bus service earlier this week to rival the business class cabins on trains and airlines. MOLIT announced the start of operations for the new buses at an event in Sejong City earlier this week where journalists and regular passengers got to experience the new service for themselves.
The new express buses are an upgrade of the current “Udeung” services which offer more comfortable seating and room than regular intercity buses. The PGE has luxuries that you would normally expect to find in the business class section of an airplane, and will be the first major upgrade of intercity bus services since the Udeung buses were introduced in 1992.
Hyundai and Kia have both made vehicles for the services which are targeted at businesspersons, passengers on long trips and overnight buses. Here is a comparison of the premium buses from each company.
Premium Gold Express Service – Features and Upgrades
- The number of seats in the bus has been reduced from 28 to 21 for more legroom.
- Seats in Udeung buses only recline up to 139°, whereas PGE seats let you lie back a bit more at 165°.
- Seats are also controllable via buttons and offer more privacy with individual curtains.
- Each seat has a fold out table with reading light, plus USB ports so passengers can charge mobile devices.
- All seats have their own monitor and entertainment system, similar to what you would find in an airplane, that offers movies, TV, music and games.
- Other things you’d expect like cup holders, footrest, pillow and a coat hanger.
Where do they go and how much will services cost?
The buses will begin commercial operations in time for the Chuseok holiday period on September 12. Two routes will be offered, one between Seoul and Gwangju (12 per day), and the other between Seoul and Busan (15 per day).
While the service may look it would be expensive, prices are actually quite reasonable. One-way tickets will cost 33,900 to Gwangju and 44,400 to Busan, 30% more than what an Udeung ticket costs. Given that the price is still cheaper than taking a KTX and offers better facilities than first class train cabins, the new premium services should prove to be competitive.
MOLIT will be keeping an eye on the demand for the buses, and it plans to expand the service to other areas from 2017.