The Korea Herald


Bus fares in Seoul to rise to 1,500 won; subway to 1,400 won

Seoul subway fare to rise again to 1,550 won in 2024

By Son Ji-hyoung

Published : July 12, 2023 - 16:02

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This photo shows the entrance gate of Jonggak Station on Wednesday morning (Yonhap) This photo shows the entrance gate of Jonggak Station on Wednesday morning (Yonhap)

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday it confirmed a plan to carry out a public transit fee hike that would set the basic subway fare at 1,400 won ($1.09) and city bus fares at 1,500 won for transportation card holders taking a single ride, within this year.

The projected hikes on the transit system -- which moves over 10 million people on weekdays -- mark the first in eight years since June 2015, when Seoul increased fares for subways by 200 won and buses by 150 won.

A municipal government special committee in a closed-door meeting approved a plan to raise the basic fare for subways, city buses and village buses for rides of up to 10 kilometers by 300 won. Consecutive 150 won hikes will be implemented this year and next for subway riders, while a 300 won hike will be done at once for bus riders later this year.

As a result, Seoul's urban bus riders will pay 1,500 won starting Aug. 12, while the basic fare for Seoul's subway will increase to 1,400 won beginning on Oct. 7, and subsequently, to 1,550 won in the second half of 2024.

Currently, a basic adult subway ride costs 1,250 won, while a city bus ride is 1,200 won for the first 10 kilometers of travel.

The public transit system charges a rider 100 won more for every 5 kilometers of additional travel, and this rate for longer travel will remain unchanged, according to Seoul.

Additionally, fares for buses running between Seoul and outlying areas will increase by 700 won, while a hike of 350 won will be implemented for nighttime buses.

Earlier this year, Seoul announced plans for a fare hike by 300 won starting in April, but the plan was deferred upon President Yoon Suk Yeol's request in February, citing the rising costs of living in the wake of inflation and an oil price surge.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon reaffirmed the 300 won fare hike plan in a press conference earlier in July, saying the hike is inevitable to cushion the financial burden of the public transit operators and allow them to carry out infrastructure renewal.

Seoul also revealed in May that nearly 800 billion won in budget from the central and local government combined was additionally allocated to mitigate losses of the operators.

Seoul's subway system suffered annual losses of 920 billion won on average from 2018 to 2022. Losses for the bus system in Seoul averaged 540 billion won during the same period.

Seoul, home to some 9.5 million people, is not the only city seeking a fare hike to address mounting losses due to an aging population nationwide combined with inflation.

Busan, Korea's second-most populous city, is also looking to raise public transit fares by up to 400 won. An adult's single subway ride in Busan will cost a person up to 1,700 won, while a city bus ride will stand at 1,600 won, if the fare hike plan goes as planned.

Also, the industrial city Ulsan will see its urban bus fare rise from 1,250 won to 1,500 won for a single ride.