Intercity express buses had had to pick up passengers at each bus stop, whether their seats were fully occupied or not, until the new rule permitting no straphangers went into effect earlier this week. The change in policy on public transportation was designed to enhance passenger safety, especially on expressways linking Seoul and its satellite cities.
The new rule did not create any of the chaos that had been anticipated for the mass transit system in Seoul’s metropolitan area. Nor were there vocal complaints from any of the local councils, which had previously put up strong opposition.
Of course, this is not to say that the new rule brought no inconvenience to commuters. On the contrary, quite a few had to wait much longer than before during rush hour until they could get on a bus.
But many other commuters resorted to other means of public transportation, making it possible for the new rule to be adopted without much difficulty. The relatively smooth transition was made possible because of enhanced public safety awareness following the recent ferry accident that claimed hundreds of lives.
Yet, the new rule apparently needs to be improved for greater commuter convenience. In this regard, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport plans to consult closely with local governments on improvements to intercity transportation after monitoring the new intercity bus operations for one month.
It goes without saying that intercity bus operators should be represented in the ministry-local government consultations. Their feedback is needed to promote convenience for commuters without compromising their safety.
Another issue of great public concern with regard to safety is the remodeling of old apartment buildings. Building regulations have recently been changed to allow up to three additional stories to be added to apartment buildings under renovation.
The change in the building regulations was made under pressure from special interests representing apartment owners that wanted to help defray renovation costs by building additional stories. Now the question that needs to be answered is whether or not the apartment buildings are strong enough to withstand the weight of the new structures to be built on top of them.
Here again, safety cannot be compromised in any way. No remodeling permit must be issued unless the building has passed a safety check.