SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Korea Bizwire) – The Seoul Metropolitan Government is reportedly considering a 24-hour subway, amid growing calls for longer operating hours, which could see the city join the likes of London, Berlin and New York with a 24-hour transit system.
Earlier this month, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced Seoul Metro is looking for contractors to conduct a study into the prospect of operating a 24-hour subway system in the city, which will assess the demand for the subway and calculate the floating population to find out which lines and days are best suited for a 24-hour service.
With the study scheduled to end by the end of this year, Seoul Metro is set to lay out plans in detail based on the findings.
Seoul’s decision comes as more and more commuters are expressing their need for an affordable public transport option in the early hours amid the city’s growing population, along with calls among residents to join other global metropolises where public transport already runs all night long.
Provided the city’s subway system ran 24 hours, Seoul Metro’s move could bring significant benefits to the economy, creating jobs and improving safety for night shift workers, including those in the hotel and security industries.
Seoul government officials also believe securing the safety of commuters could revitalize the ‘nocturnal economy’, which could help the country shake off its long-term economic slump.
Young people heading back home after a night out on the weekend will also benefit from the longer operating hours, easing the notorious traffic snarls on the streets of Seoul in busy nightlife areas including Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam.
However, challenges await.
As Seoul Metro is already running an annual deficit of around 300 billion won, many worry the decision to operate the subway system 24 hours a day could add to the already growing deficit.
A report submitted to Seoul Metropolitan Council by Seoul Metro in 2016 adds to the criticism, as it suggested an additional 2.6 billion would be required to run a 24-hour train on line 7 between Jangam and Onsu Stations on the weekend.
Opposition from railway unions is to be expected also as a 24-hour schedule is most likely to add a burden to the shoulders of Seoul Metro workers, who already suffer from a labor shortage, as well as taxi drivers, whose incomes depend heavily on nighttime rides.
Hyunsu Yim (email@example.com)