Public Transportation in Korea

In Seoul city buses often have bus stops in the middle of a large, busy streets. So, you have to check not only the right, but also the left side of the road to find your bus.

Majority of Koreans use the plastic card “T-money” to pay for public transportation. They sell T-money cards at Seven-Eleven or at subway stations. This card is used to pay for buses, subway and certain cabs. It is necessary to scan this card twice: while boarding and when exiting. The final balance is displayed for your information on the scanning machine called “Cash Bee.” Some Koreans have smartphone applications that allow them to scan cellphones to pay for transportation. Finally, certain bankcards can work as T-money.

Public transportation is reasonably fast. The farthest left lane on a freeway is a designated express lane for buses only. When going from one city to another it is faster to travel by bus. Buses that stay within the limits of one city are driven by speedy kamikazes. These bus drivers love to open doors before coming to a complete stop and taking off with doors still open. Not sure why they are in such a hurry, but it is best to stay in the middle of a bus. Also, bus drivers start driving away from the bus stop before passengers situate themselves, so it is best to board quickly and grab something/someone to hold on to ASAP. Finally, being in such a hurry, buses will not stop at their designated stops unless someone inside the bus presses a request button, or unless someone at a bus stop raises a hand to hail that bus. So, when in Korea, make sure to be vigilant and communicate with the bus driver while a bus is approaching. Subway is trying to implement more express lines as well. Still, when traveling from city to city, prepare to spend at least one hour in traffic.

People waiting at a bus stop in the middle of a busy street

Korean transit is clean, comfortable and cheap. Subway cars get mopping every time they reach the final stop on their line. (To watch Korean subway – click here). Busses have free Wi-Fi and TV screens to monitor the route and for entertainment purposes. Bus stops have monitors to display what buses are en-route and how many minutes left until their arrival at this stop. Some bus lines play radio music while on the go. Transportation is cheap, especially if you travel within boarders of one town or one subway line. The fee goes a little up if you change lines or travel to a different city. Considering the gas prices (2$ per liter = 8$ per gallon), public transportation is the right way to go.

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