Seoul Metropolitan Government announced its plan to operate the metro 24 hours in Seoul. Such a policy is expected to bring changes in the daily routine of Seoul citizens including university students. Following London’s night tube and New York’s 24-hour subway, this new policy aims to offer convenience for the public. Although specific plans have not yet been disclosed, people have already shown different reactions toward the new policy.
Seoul Metro analyzed that the recent growth of nocturnal activities caused growth of demand on safe and convenient public transportation late at night. This rising demand triggered the plan of changing the original transit system and now, the feasibility of extending operation time is being researched by Seoul Metropolitan Government. The research team will investigate the actual demand on public transportation at night and find out an adequate line and day of the week to implement this new policy, promising to announce specific plans by the beginning of next year.
The two largest metropolises in the world, London and New York have already been operating their subways 24 hours a day. London has been running the night tube system on Fridays and Saturdays since Aug. 2016, on the expected extra budget of more than 600 billion won every year. However, a 24-hour subway system also shows negative aspects in the case of New York which is notorious for its problems with cleaning and repair.
“I was surprised when I first came to Korea and got on the subway,” commented Sabrina Chok, resident of New York who visited Korea this summer. “Unlike New York, the subway in Seoul was so clean and nice.”
Some people worry that a 24-hour metro system will not be beneficial considering the current situation, as its operation is expected to cause problems related to cleaning, repair and budget.
“I do agree with the point that 24-hour subway will offer convenience for Seoul citizens, but I am also worried about the possible negative effects,” expressed a janitorial staff working at Ewha Womans University subway station. “There will be more work required for the janitorial staff, but there are still no improvement of working conditions made for staff like me. I am afraid that extended operation time will cause more mess at the station and I doubt whether the station can be kept clean.”
Extra budget is also a valid concern. Seoul Metro is marking 300 billion won of deficit every year, an amount that is expected to increase with the 24-hour metro policy. Moreover, there are many subways that have been used for more than 30 years that need to be checked. The inspection is also expected to require a budget.
However, some people have shown positive reaction toward the new policy. They mainly look forward to the added convenience and personal financial gain.
“I am glad to hear the plan to extend the operation time of subway,” commented Hwang Ji-woo, a freshman of Ewha. “I always have to rush to the station in order to catch the last subway of the day. If the metro runs all night, I will be able to finish my tasks at my own pace or stay longer with friends. Also, it will also be much cheaper to use the subway than to take a taxi.”