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Expressway rest stops to provide drive-through, mobile preorder services

Land Ministry, KEC aim to upgrade rest stops into regional economic hubs by 2022

Starting next year, expressway rest stops will have drive-through stores, as well as mobile preorder and pickup services, as part of the government’s plan to support small businesses and revitalize regional economies.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Korea Expressway Corp. on Tuesday unveiled a mid- and long-term innovation plan for expressway service facilities, in a bid to foster the rest areas into business hubs for young entrepreneurs by 2022.

The Naerincheon rest stop in Inje, Gangwon Province. (Korea Expressway Corp.)
The Naerincheon rest stop in Inje, Gangwon Province. (Korea Expressway Corp.)

Under a road map to create “human-centered smart service hubs,” the ministry and KEC said they would start by installing drive-through food restaurants at designated service stations next year -- a pilot project to be expanded to all rest areas throughout the country by 2022.

The mobile preorder and pickup service, currently test-operated at eight rest areas, will be expanded to all stations starting next year. Customers will be able to preorder food and other products via their mobile devices and pick them up at a designated time, without waiting.

In response to the growing number of inbound visitors, authorities will also work on launching duty-free stores and allowing foreign nationals to receive tax exemptions later at the airport upon departure.

For long-distance drivers in need of rest, capsule hotels will be available at some major transportation points, while campgrounds are to be built in areas with attractive natural landscape, officials said.

Authorities will also tighten their grip over the quality control of key food ingredients such as rice and kimchi, as a preliminary step to expanding the range of food sold at rest areas.

In addition, standard recipes are to be applied for six representative Korean dishes -- including kimchi jjigae and doenjang jjigae --for the sake of uniformity and predictability, according to officials.

Parking lots will be rearranged so as to expand individual parking spaces and to secure the safety of pedestrians.

“Most expressway service areas currently have trapezoid-shaped parking lots, but in the future, the (parking) space will be customized to the needs of the surrounding area and its users,” said an official of the ministry.

Charging facilities for eco-friendly cars will be installed in all rest areas, while the number of hydrogen charging stations will be raised to 60 by 2022.

Some of the rest areas will also have self-generating facilities based on renewable energy such as solar, geothermal and fuel cell energy.

About 20 exclusive rest lounges will be built in key areas, providing shower rooms, sleeping facilities, and laundry services for long-distance truck drivers.

“We are also considering a mobility hub model, allowing users to transfer to various transportation methods, including buses, trams, and car-sharing,” said a ministry official.

By Bae Hyun-jung (