Bus Number Signs

A problem in taking a bus in Seoul was always that you have to be careful to not miss it. Your bus might have hid behind another bus and just started off before the other vehicle. Or on the median bus lanes the buses piled up and it was impossible to read the bus number. Seoul solved this problem without any costs and it raised the convenience of Seoul’s public transportation system even more.


How did Seoul solve that?

The answer is very simple: Additional bus number signs were attached to the front door in a way that every time when the door opens, the sign flips to the front and people at the bus stop can easily read the number of the bus. If the door is open, it looks like this:

Seoul Bus Sign

Here is a news video about that measure from Seoul TBS, where you can see how it works:

The system is really simple and the people are very happy about it. The best point is that, thanks to the advertisement, Seoul even earns more money than they spent for the signs.


Who had this great idea?

I’ve never read any public announcement about that measure. So I was quite surprised when I saw buses with this “gadget”. On my research for this article I found an entry in the Seoul Oasis-page (That is a platform for citizens, where they can submit ideas or discuss policies.): There someone posted in July 2012 that it is very difficult to see the bus number when the vehicles line up at bus stations on the median-lanes. The person also proposed that there should be some signs on the top or on the side of the vehicle to identify the buses easier. News articles and the video above mention that the actual idea came from a bus company manager. He installed it on a couple of buses in September 2012. The reaction by bus users was very positive and until the end of 2013 almost 90% of buses in Seoul got bus number sign. In this year it was also installed on buses in Busan.

It shows how a simple measure can improve such a complex system like the bus system of a mega-city.

About This Author

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


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  • These signs are indeed very helpful. Although it would add to their cost, I would like to see them illuminated at night. Or, at the very least, use glow-in-the-dark or reflective paint. The signs are still hard to see at night.

    huey222 3 years ago Reply

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    Most Useful Korean Transportation Apps | 9 months ago Reply

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