Only one year late…

Suncheon Bay’s PRT to be launched as ‘SkyCube’.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Suncheon’s PRT will finally open for commercial service on 19/20 April following its trial operations during the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo. News reports seem to have inconsistent dates for the launch but this is often due to the actual opening ceremony being held the day before services begin.

This is also exactly one year after it was supposed to open for the expo, the original date being 20 April 2013. (Did somebody get the launch date wrong or something?)

In any case, it’s great to see that it will be finally up and running for good. The transport system has been renamed ‘SkyCube’ and is of course being touted as a green transport solution. Though it baffles me as to why SC-PRT seem to insist on comparing the cost savings with that of a standard rail line/subway when it would have never been an option in such an environment anyway.

Check out our previous articles for more information:

PRT System to Open for Suncheon Bay Garden Expo
What’s the story with Suncheon Bay’s PRT?

Related Links/Sources:
SC-PRTNewsis  | Data News (Korean Press Release)

 

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.

Read more of this post

What’s the story with Suncheon Bay’s PRT?

There has been some confusion over Suncheon Bay’s PRT system after the head of SC-PRT announced that it was stopping trial services that have been open to the public according to this article by NSP Communications.

The transport system was originally supposed to begin operations in April on the same day that the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo 2013 got underway. Unfortunately, the PRT was far from ready and didn’t open to the public until nearly four months later on August 15. Check out the view from one of the pods filmed back in May in the video below.

Despite this, the system is still in its testing phase and the article states the mixed messages emanating from the PRT operator. One director in the company said that the test operations would only be open to the public until Chuseok, while the CEO of the company claimed that they would be open to the public until the promised date of October 20 when the Garden Expo ends.

Earlier in the year four government officials leading the PRT project were also disciplined after it was found that the company constructing the line had already been chosen in advance.

Unfortunately most major light rail projects in Korea thus far have been marred by either accidents, fallout between companies or extended delays in opening. Considering that there are plans for numerous other light rail projects – not just in Seoul but around the country, one hopes that planners will learn from the mistakes of others.

10 New Lines in Seoul’s Metro Network

A look at Seoul’s metro-map is quite intimidating because it contains over a dozen subway lines (I counted 17, not including Everline) in a wide-reaching network. However, it doesn’t stop authorities from planning further extension and improvements of the system. End of July Seoul announced that they want to build 10 new subway lines in order to give every citizen the possibility to get on a subway within a 10 minutes radius from their home.

Gyeonggi-Do Will Also Expand Rail Network

Before we go into details of Seoul’s plan, I just want to mention that Gyeonggi-do will expand their subway-network as well. 9 lines with 163 km of rail are going to be build until 2020. The costs are estimated to be 5.8 trillion KRW. Their main motivation is to increase the model share of rail transport from 8.9 % to 17.1 %. You can find a map of the new lines for Gyeonggi-do here.

Seoul’s Plan

Actually, the magic number for Seoul is also 9! I mentioned 10 lines but 1 of them is an extension of Metro Line no. 9. Even though it isn’t a completely new plan, the plan contains still some surprising element: The former mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hoon intended to build seven new lines. After Park Won-soon became mayor of Seoul he postponed the plans, which is usually a sign that they were never supposed to be build. Now  the city government published that they are going to build ten new lines.  Six of the lines have been in the plans of the former mayor. The line, which was scratched, was the DMC-Line, a 6.5 km tram line from Susaek Station to the World Cup Stadium. Read more of this post

YongIn Everline to Finally Open (For real this time!)

Though some thought the day would never come, the Yongin Everline finally opens on April 26 for service following an opening ceremony which begins at 3pm. Using the line will be free all weekend and fares will be collected from April 29. Despite construction on the line being completed almost three years ago in June 2010, plans to open the line were thrown into turmoil after various disputes between Yongin City and YongIn Everline, including a spat over the minimum revenue guarantee (MRG) for the project. Read more of this post

Alternatives Being Investigated for Wolmido’s Monorail

The fate of Incheon’s monorail, Wolmi Eunha Rail, lies in the hands of the Korea Railroad Research Institute (KRRI) after a disastrous history since the line’s initial “completion” in 2009. According to this article from DongA News and several others, the KRRI will be investigating the safety of the line to decide whether it can be fixed and used, or whether the line will be altered and used a different way. 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

Read more of this post

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

PRT System to Open for Suncheon Bay Garden Expo

Final Update: The Suncheon Bay PRT opened in April 2014 as “Skycube”. See following posts:

Update 2: The PRT has still not opened and Suncheon City said that it won’t begin operations until August. More information to come in additional post.

Update: The PRT line will not be opening as planned on April 20 and according to recent sightings at the venue, construction is still ongoing. Keep an eye out for updates.

Spring is not too far off and this April will see the opening of a new PRT(personal rapid transport) system in Suncheon Bay, a coastal eco-park in South Cheolla famous for its nature, wetlands and wildlife. The opening of the line will come sometime after the opening Suncheon Bay Garden Expo, an international festival which will be held for six months from April 20 to October 20. If you’re more interested in what the festival has to offer than the transport, check out the bottom of this post. Read more of this post

History of Trams in Seoul

Most of you might not know that there was a streetcar running through the heart of Seoul in the last century because today there are no traces of rails or anything else left in the city. From the end of the 19th century until 1968 there were several tram lines running through the town. They got replaced by private vehicles and a subway system. A description how it was over 100 years ago gives us Andrei Lankov with his article “The rise and fall of the Seoul tram”. The article says that, as the first tram started operating on May 17 in 1899, Seoul became the second East Asian city with trams. Read more of this post

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