Increase of Seoul’s Public Transport Fares

Seoul's Public Transport Fares

It was speculated since a couple of months that there will be an increase of Seoul’s public transport fares in 2015. Today the transport department of Seoul submitted the proposal for new fare prices to the municipal assembly. We will see a rise of up to 30 %. In addition, Seoul will introduce a discount for early birds.

The last increase of Seoul’s public transport fares was in February 2012. Actually, the long-term plan of Seoul was to increase the prices every (or at least, every second) year. However, transit users aren’t never happy about fare hikes and so they were delayed several times. After the big public transport reform in 2004 the fare was only raised twice: 2007 and 2012. The new fares will be implemented in June 2015.

Update: The new fare system will be introduced on June 27. After consultation with the public, Seoul decided to NOT increase the fares for students and children. We updated the overview and new fares! Second change is that Seoul is going to give foreign elderly (over 65 years) the right to use the subway for free.

The reason for this increase is that the financial burden for Seoul is growing. The transport companies are unable to cover their costs through the current ticket prices and so they depend on subsidies by the Seoul Metropolitan Government and over the years the amount of required subsidies grew steadily. An increase of fares still won’t cover the full costs but it will minimize the financial burden for Seoul.

Currently, Seoul’s public transport fares are as follow:

Transportation Card (T-Money etc.)
Adults Students Children
Subway 1,050 KRW 720 KRW 450 KRW
750 KRW 480 KRW 300 KRW
Yellow Buses (순환버스) 850 KRW 560 KRW 350 KRW
Inner-city Bus (Blue and Green Buses) 1,050 KRW 720 KRW 450 KRW
Red Buses
1,850 KRW 1,360 KRW 1,200 KRW
M-Bus** 2,000 KRW 1,600 KRW 1,200 KRW

(Source: Daum, *a single-trip ticket, **M-Bus standard fare can vary for each line and region)


Paying in Cash
Adults Students Children
Subway 1,150 KRW* 1,150 KRW* 500 KRW*
850 KRW 550 KRW 300 KRW
Yellow Buses (순환버스) 950 KRW 800 KRW 350 KRW
Inner-city Bus (Blue and Green Buses) 1,150 KRW 1,000 KRW 450 KRW
Red Buses
1,950 KRW 1,800 KRW 1,200 KRW
M-Bus** 2,100 KRW 2,100 KRW 1,200 KRW

(*a single-trip ticket, **M-Bus standard fare can vary for each line and region)


The New Fare Prices

The fare increase is different for each type of public transport: The Maeul buses become 100 KRW more expensive. The innercity buses are going to raise prices by 150 KRW. The yellow buses (which I see rarely driving around Seoul) are getting 250 KRW more expensive. Subway will be also raised by 250 KRW. The biggest increase will be for the Gyeonggi buses (the red ones) with 450 KRW. Percentage-wise the biggest change is for the yellow buses with 29.4%, followed by the red buses (24.3%), subway (23.8%), night buses (18.9%), inner-city buses (14.3%) and Maeul buses (13.3%).

The new fares (Updated on June 19):

Transportation Card
Adults Students Children
Subway 1,250 KRW 720 KRW 450 KRW
900 KRW 480 KRW 300 KRW
Yellow Buses (순환버스) 1,100 KRW 560 KRW 350 KRW
Inner-city Bus (Blue and Green Buses) 1,200 KRW 720 KRW 450 KRW
Night Bus
2,150 KRW 1,360 KRW 1,200 KRW
Red Buses
2,300 KRW 1,360 KRW 1,200 KRW
M-Bus** 2,400 – 3,100 KRW 1,600 KRW 1,200 KRW

(*a single-trip ticket, **M-Bus standard fare can vary for each line and region)

The new fares for cash payment (Updated on June 19):

Paying in Cash
Adults Students Children
Subway 1,350 KRW* 1,350 KRW* 450 KRW*
1,000 KRW 1,000 KRW 300 KRW
Yellow Buses (순환버스) 1,200 KRW 1,200 KRW 350 KRW
Inner-city Bus (Blue and Green Buses) 1,300 KRW 1,300 KRW 450 KRW
Night Bus
2,250 KRW 2,250 KRW 1,200 KRW
Red Buses
2,400 KRW 2,400 KRW 1,200 KRW
M-Bus** 2,500 – 3,200 KRW 2,500 – 3,200 KRW 1,200 KRW

(*a single-trip ticket, **M-Bus standard fare can vary for each line and region)

The table left out the night buses, which currently cost 1,850 KRW. From June their fares will be raised by 350 KRW and so you have to pay 2,200 KRW for a trip on the owl buses.


How are people going to react?

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport conducted a survey about people’s perception for transit fare increases. The survey was conducted in 2013. The main question was how much they regard as justified. 27.5% of the 1627 respondents said that there shouldn’t be an increase, 40.6 % were OK with 100 to 200 KRW, 26.7 % even tolerated 300 to 500 KRW increases. Only 4.7 % thought that an increase between 600 and 1000 KRW is justified (and 0.5 % others). So now we have an increase between 100 to 450 KRW and we can expect to see some complaints of Gyeonggi bus users.

T-Money Transport Card

95% of transit rides are paid by a transportation card.

Lately, there was also a discussion about the calculation of subsidies and expenses by the bus companies. Each bus company receives subsidies from the Seoul Metropolitan Government to cover their costs and have some profits. Some experts doubt that the calculation system is working well. It seems that the bus companies get more money than they should. The reason is that the subsidies are calculated by multiplying certain factors (the number of transported passengers, costs for drivers, repair costs etc.) but it doesn’t include the profits of the bus companies. They are able to make money through advertisement on vehicles, for example. Yet we won’t see a reform of the subsidy system.


Discount for early birds

Seoul’s public transport fares are going to become more flexible. If a transit user takes a bus before 6:30 am, then he will receive a 20% discount. The goal is to reduce the people during peak hours (morning rush hour). Singapore introduced such a concept in 2013. Everybody who uses the subway in Singapore before 7:45 am rides for free.

For the future, I hope that they will implement monthly tickets. Paying a fixed price and use the public transport as much as you want is generally a good system. Especially low-income families should receive a monthly voucher in order to stay mobile without financial expenses.

About This Author

<p>Co-Author of Kojects. Interested in Sustainable Transportation, Urbanism and Korea.</p>


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  • Helpful. Thanks.

    liamjameshaddock 3 years ago Reply

  • Thanks for the informative post, even though it’s not the best news…

    I wish governments around the world would raise revenue from taxes on corporations and higher income brackets rather than on fare increases for regular people. But it’s an uphill battle against the power and money of the corporate world.

    We can at least take a little comfort in the fact that Seoul’s buses are still half the price of those in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. And I think the Korean government certainly deserves a lot of credit for that. The mass transit system here is truly one of the best in the world.

    The fare increase is on buses only? Not subways?

    James 3 years ago Reply

    • OMG! I forgot to include subway :)
      I updated the blog post and now the table includes the subway, too. The subway fare will be raised by 250 KRW. Thank you, James!

      Nikola 3 years ago Reply

  • Yikes! A 250 won increase on the subway?! That’s a major bummer. I wonder how much my monthly pass will increase now.

    When I got my first monthly pass in 2010, it was W39,600 for 60 rides per month within the Seoul City limits. The 2012 rate hike pushed it to W44,600. I’m not looking forward to the new price…

    Anyway, thanks for the update!

    And thanks to both you and Andy for your great website. I really appreciate it.

    James 3 years ago Reply

  • Thanks for the heads up. I’m always curious how much the average person (Korean or expat) knows about price or policy changes before the change happens. I remember being surprised when the taxis cost more and didn’t know until they started the meter.

    I’m just glad I’m not taking the red buses everyday ^^

    rickinasia 3 years ago Reply

    • Thanks for the comment ;)
      Haha, currently I depend on M-buses (they are excluded from the general fare system) as well as red buses.

      Nikola 3 years ago Reply

  • […] fare is going up by around 20%. We gave a complete overview of the increased prices here in the announcement of new public transport fares for Seoul. For an adult who uses a transport card the fare is going to rise between 150 and 450 KRW, […]

    Seoul’s New Fare System | Kojects 2 years ago Reply

  • As feared, the price of my monthly subway pass (60 rides in a 30 day period) went up exactly the same percentage as the regular fare for transport card users: 16%. Before June 27, I paid W46,500. Now it’s 55,000. It’s a bummer, but I still have to keep in mind that Seoul has about the best mass transit system in the world for the money. And I still pay less than W1000 per ride (W916) (was W775 before the increase). So not bad.

    Still, it was so nice before to just pull out a quick W50,000 note put it in the machine, get some change back and be on my way. Now I have to put in two bills…

    James 2 years ago Reply

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