subway cars without seats during rush hours in Seoul to combat train saturation

In the South Korean capital, as in Paris or other large European cities, residents complain about the quality of their public transport. The South Korean authorities have just announced that they will test a new concept: trains without seats.


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Passengers on a subway in Seoul, Korea, August 10, 2022. (GERMAIN HAZARD / DDPI via AFP)

This new concept of seatless carriages was announced this week by the management of Seoul Metro, the public transport company which operates most of the subway lines in the Korean capital. His idea is of course to try to improve the comfort of passengers who always complain about the crowds, especially during rush hours. Many Seoul commuters and the media sometimes call their subway “the subway from hell”it is so crowded.

In the morning and evening, there are regularly lines filled to 200% of their normal capacity. And there are sometimes, in the media, articles about passengers who faint during journeys, because the pressure is so great within the trains. Seoul Metro’s idea is to remove the seats from the trains to give passengers more room. The carrier will begin testing this concept on two of its lines. Lines 4 and 7 which cross the megalopolis. And he is not going to remove all the seats in all the trains but only those in the cars which are generally the most crowded.

Objective: reduce the saturation level in trains by around 30%

Statistics show that passenger density is always highest in the cars that arrive closest to the metro exits. So Seoul Metro will first remove seats in two trains of its trains. People who need to sit down can always try to find a place in a classic wagon. And these subways without seats will run during rush hours. During off-peak hours, Seoul Metro will provide carriages with seats. The company assures that it should succeed in reducing the saturation level in the trains by around 30%. Currently, during peak hours, this saturation rate is 193% on line 4 and 164% on line 7.

Seoul Metro also plans to slightly increase the frequency of trains on some very crowded lines. But the company has limited operational and financial resources. Seoul Metro loses money almost every year. And it is always politically complicated to raise ticket prices. After years of debate, Seoul authorities slightly increased the price of the basic ticket a month ago. It now costs 1400 won, which is one euro.

source site-29