Sustainable Transportation in Korea

UN-HABITAT published some weeks ago the GRHS 2013 (Global Report on Human Settlements) with a focus on sustainable human transport. Even though the report sometimes mentions Korea/Seoul and it contains an info-box about the bike sharing system in Changwon (p. 137),  a background study about sustainable transport in East Asia was more interesting for me. This report analyzed the condition of transport in China, Japan, Korea (South AND North), Mongolia and Taiwan. The authors seem to be great experts about mainland China and Shanghai but not so much about other regions. Nevertheless, it gives a nice context about sustainability in the transport sector of Korea. This post is going to summarize their main findings related to Korea without going too deep into the topic.

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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:

owl-buses

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

seoul-night-lines

 

Overview of Night Lines in Seoul

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)

 

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!

Wireless Charging of Electric Bus in Gumi

The biggest problem of electric vehicles is their battery. Whereas it seems like the capacity cannot be extended, anymore other more creative ways have to be explored. At Kojects, we introduced the battery-swapping method but there’s another method in development for Korean vehicle: Wireless charging through magnetic fields, which are directly beneath the asphalt surface of the street. This system is called “OLEV” and the world’s first system of that kind started commercial operation on last Thursday in Gumi, a city close to Daegu. This post is going to explain what OLEV means and why Gumi was chosen to be the first city.
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Love-Hate Relationship with the M-Bus

Did you ever wonder which genius invented these fabulous grey-blue buses with a digital number display in the front window? Secondly, what does the “M” stand for in the name M-Bus?

korea-mbus-designThe first time I was very positively surprised because it was an innovation in Korea’s public transport system. I loved the buses for their comfort, concept and branding. Since some months I rely on them on a daily bases and I have to say that my love turned fast into dislike (and in some very weak moments I hate these buses). I will try to describe my relationship with the M-Buses in this post. Read more of this post

First Survey of Seoul’s Night Bus Services

Since April 19 there are buses operating through the whole night on two routes in Seoul. The transport division of Seoul City Government published some statistics about the usage of the night bus. This survey is very important because it helps the city government to decide if operation should continue and expand or not. Read more of this post

Korean Solution to Electric Power Supply for Public Transport

We talked about the history of streetcars in Seoul and that Korea is developing a new type of public transport method, which merges the advantages of streetcars and buses. The dependence on fossil fuels has to be reduced. The solution are electrically powered vehicles. Electric vehicles could get energy through external connections (like overhead wire) or they have to carry a battery with a high capacity. Even though overhead wires are still very common in Europe, Korea seems to prefer batteries.  That makes the development very challenging and creative solutions have to be found. In Korea, a company seemed to found such a solution, which involves changing batteries instead of recharging them directly inside of the vehicle.

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Seoul to Begin Night Bus Services

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

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Image: Flickr – bikesandwich

One question that is often asked by many while living in Seoul is why there is no public transport in the earliest hours of the morning. This will soon change when two new night bus services begin operating across Seoul from April 19 with more to come later in the year. Read more of this post

Public Transport in Taipei

The last six days I was in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, for a city-trip. Beforehand I heard a lot of good things about public transport of Taipei and so I was very excited to use subway, bus and other modes of transport. This post is going to summarize my experience and from time to time I’ll compare it with Seoul. The following picture shows the most important historical figures for Taiwan Chiang Kai-shek and China Sun Yat-sen sitting in a train.

Chiang-Kai-shek

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New Generation of Trams

There aren’t any trams in Seoul since fifty years, but it doesn’t mean that Korea completely abandoned the idea of trams. Actually, Korea currently works on the development of new tram systems. In 2012 the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs decided to focus on one special kind of tram (via KBS):

The government has designated bimodal trams and magnet-embedded tracks as new transportation technologies.
Bimodal trams are built by applying railway technologies into buses. Bimodal trams are a new type of transportation that boasts the flexibility of buses and periodicity of trains. The trams are controlled electronically, provide a smoother ride for passengers, and can be automatically operated on dedicated tracks with magnets embedded in them.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs explained that such technologies are eco-friendly systems that could be used to replace light rail vehicles.

It’s great that South Koreal pursues development into this particular direction. There are some points which I would like to discuss: Bimodal trams, magnet-embedded tracks, replacement of light rail. We’ll start with the last one point. Read more of this post

Namsan E-Bus, First Commercial Electric Bus Worldwide

Last summer I went to the N-Tower at the mountain Namsan in Seoul. On the way up the mountain I used the convenient cable car and the view from the tower was great. From the top I’ve saw the following thing:

Electric Bus at Namsan in Seoul

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