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Seoul cancels plan for new bus fare system, but fare hikes still on

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Feb. 8, 2023 - 17:21

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The Seoul Metropolitan Government, while moving to raise fares for buses and the subway to cover mounting losses, backpedaled Wednesday on its plan to introduce a new distance-based fare system for buses after facing public backlash.

The initial plan, which was recently submitted by the municipal government to the city council, called for raising the basic fare for intra-city buses by 300 won ($0.24) or 400 won from 1,200 won, and the inter-city bus fare by 700 won from 2,300 won.

On top of that, the city had sought to introduce distance-based fares on buses for the first time, a system which has only been used on the subway until now. But the city government announced Wednesday afternoon that it has dropped the idea.

“Recent inflation has placed financial burdens on the people and in considering the (financial) burden of the citizens in Incheon and Gyeonggi Province commuting to Seoul, (the city) decided not to introduce the distance-based fare system for buses,” a city official said.

Under the current system, passengers who do not transfer to other means of public transportation -- including other buses -- are only required to pay the basic fare.

Passengers at the Shinchon Station, Line No. 2, Seoul (Yonhap) Passengers at the Shinchon Station, Line No. 2, Seoul (Yonhap)

Seoul is also seeking to raise subway fares by either 300 won or 400 won from the current 1,250 won. While the Seoul Metro is already using distance-based fares, the fees will be raised by 50 won: meaning it will be 150 won per five kilometers travelled between 10 and 50 kilometers, adding 150 won when travelling more than 50 kilometers.

While the city government has stressed that the transportation fee hike is inevitable due to mounting operating losses, it added that the plan "could be adjusted" during discussions with the city council and related organizations, as well as during the public hearing.

If the city's plan passes, it will mark the first time since June 2015 that the city will raise fees for the subways and buses.

The measure follows Seoul's recent decision to raise the basic taxi fares by 1,000 won to 4,800 won, which came into effect this month.

Gyeonggi Province, part of the greater Seoul area, announced earlier this week that it will freeze it bus fares.