In a city like Seoul full of busy lives, buses are merely recognized as a means of transportation. While using public transport, time only means the duration of travel to reach one’s destination, the time to wait in the vehicle and do nothing. However, the Thinking Bus project suggests a small change in the attitude. The project makes effort to help change people’s perspectives of looking at buses through special leaflets, which contain a special storyline of the bus route. Detailed information about the historic background of each station is provided, and personal stories of drivers and passenger are shared in the leaflets to enrich the meaning of bus ride.
“Many interesting things can be seen through the windows of buses,” said Lee Hye-rim, the creator of the Thinking project, a senior majoring in Painting at Ewha. “On buses nowadays, passengers mostly only pay attention to their phones. However, when one cares to look out the window and discover many differences in the sceneries between different buses, people can be entertained and have meaningful experiences.”
Along with providing people with an way to enjoy riding buses in Seoul, the Thinking Bus project also aims to help develop the four-colored buses – red, yellow, green and blue – to become an icon symbolizing Seoul.
“Like London’s red-colored, double-decker buses, we thought that the four-colored buses could become a symbol of Seoul as well,” said Lee Ye-yeo, the co-founder of the Thinking Bus project, a senior majoring in Visual Communication Design at Ewha. “Just as the citizens and tourists of London adore the London Bus, we believe that Seoul buses have many factors that can attract interest and affinity.”
The Thinking Bus project has recently started its second season with its first edition concentrating on the blue bus 152. Having one of the highest numbers of passengers per year, bus 152 was specifically chosen for the reason that it would have diverse and interesting stories. Particularly, the unique bus route which passes from the old historic buildings in the central area of Seoul to new modern buildings was the main focus of the edition. Such characteristic was well-represented in the main theme of “Time travel.”
What is special about the project at this season is that it has undergone many changes after experiencing trials and error in its first season. One of the most noticeable features is its change in the size of the leaflet. After acknowledging the inconvenience of unfolding a large leaflet, the project came up with a smaller size to improve handiness. In addition, season two has made changes in the quality of information. In the first season, the themes of the editions were mostly emotional and subjective as the authors’ thoughts were reflected. However, for this season, the project is featuring through interviews of bus drivers and passengers to focus on more stories and episodes.
Despite of its uniqueness, the project has also gone through many difficulties.
“Our main concern of the project was the production costs because the leaflets are distributed for free,” Lee said. “This is because we want many people to communicate with us. As an independent publication press, we have to find our own way to afford production costs. Now, we are able to successfully continue our project after going through many trials and errors and gaining support from great people and organizations, as well as trying to rescue our project by selling relevant products.”
The project gathers funds in diverse ways, including social cloud funding and receiving public offerings from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and other organizations. It also finds financial support from many organizations in the bus industry.
Although being an independent publication press has its difficulties, it is also the reason why the Thinking Bus can maintain its unique perspective.
“Carpe Diem,” Lee said. “It is important to spend the moments of our lives as meaningful as we can. I hope the Thinking Bus can help people to see the world in a different and meaningful way.”