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Seoul's daily subway ridership hits pandemic-era high on eased restrictions

Citizens wearing masks pack a subway station during the morning rush hour in Seoul on April 29, 2022, when the government announced the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted May 2. (Yonhap)
Citizens wearing masks pack a subway station during the morning rush hour in Seoul on April 29, 2022, when the government announced the outdoor mask mandate will be lifted May 2. (Yonhap)

The daily number of riders on the Seoul subway system breached the 7 million mark for the first time in 1 1/2 years, data showed Thursday, partly on the back of rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the data from Seoul subway operator Seoul Metro, 7,210,000 people rode subway trains in the capital city on April 29, marking the most single-day riders since Oct. 30, 2020.

An average of 7,320,000 riders used the Seoul subway system in a 24-hour period in 2019, the data showed. The average tally, however, plummeted to 5,300,000 between February 2020 and March 2022.

Starting on April 18, the country removed most of its pandemic restrictions, including a 10-person limit on private gatherings and a midnight curfew at restaurants, coffee shops and bars.

Seoul subway trains carried an average of 6,620,000 people every day from April 25-30, up from 5,900,000 people from April 18-24, the data showed.

Noticeably, the average daily number of riders on the Seoul subway during nighttime went up from 227,000 in the April 11-15 period to 240,000 in the April 25-29 period.

Last week, the Seoul city government said it will begin resuming late-night public transportation operations in the city by extending daily subway operation hours through 1 a.m., instead of midnight, on weekdays, starting sometime in June. (Yonhap)

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