Seoul is one of the largestmetropolis in theworld with a population over ten million people. It is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world with an area of 605 square kilometers. The concentration of population with nearly a quarter of the country’s entire population in a condensed area often causes traffic jams. Traffic can get hectic in a hurry, especially in the central business areas as well as major roads leading to those areas. To relieve the congestion and to the relief of many Seoulites, the city provides a convenient public transportation system. Various bus routes basically cover all corners of the city but the most efficient method of getting around town is by Seoul Metro. Not only is it cheap, the average travel time between stations is measured at 2~3 minutes. This is unimaginable for commuters traveling by car or bus during the hectic rush hours. Buses are also convenient way to get around the city once you get the hang of the seemingly complex routes. However, these routes are not as complex as they appear upon careful inspection since maps and street signs are labeled in English. Trains to regional cities have gotten a lot more convenient with the addition of KTX in 2004. In addition to KTX, two major domestic airlines as well as several other smaller airlines Provide flights to numerous regional cities on a daily basis.
Riding the Bus
Three types of buses cover routes connecting every corner of the city: Ilban bus, Jwaseok bus and Maeul bus. Over 400 express and residential buses and 8,500 city buses serve Seoulites on a daily basis. Bus routes can be the hardest to master for newcomers. However, once you get the hang of riding on the bus, it may be easier for you to reach destinations not easily accessible by subway. The bus travel in five to fifteen minute intervals but it may take longer in busier parts of the city. Schedules vary depending on the bus routes but most routes start at 4:30 a.m. with the last bus of the day making its round at 1 a.m. One of the advantages of traveling on a bus is that you can actually enjoy the sights and sounds of various neighborhoods around Seoul. If it’s traffic you’reworried about, bus routes do not get as congested as blue lanes marked in blue on streets of major areas around Seoul to provide a free flow of bus traffic. Now, there is a drawback to all of this and it has to do with jockeying for position on a moving bus full of commuters. The experience gets a bitmore interesting when you have to squeeze your way towards the rear exit.
Ilban buses are sometimes referred to as city buses, which are the most commonly seen of type of buses in the city. Ilban buses come in yellow, blue and green colors. Bus numbers indicate the area of departure and arrival plus another digit or two for bus identification. To access a bus routes search engine and Seoul BusMap,
visit http://bus.seoul.go.kr [K, E]
These buses connect suburban areas to downtown Seoul. Three types of blue buses exist: bendable bus, CNG (compressed natural gas) bus with a lower platform and regular CNG bus. The city of Seoul partly operates these buses that travel at higher speeds and longer distances within the city. Identified by a three-digit number: departure area + arrival area + single-digit number.
Green bus is operated by private companies; these branch buses connect residential areas, subway lines and bus terminals. Identified by a four-digit numbering system: departure area + arrival area + doubledigit serial number.
Circulation buses accommodate various traffic demands. The yellow buses circles downtown Seoul and make short stops at major tourist, shopping and business areas around the center of the city. Identified by two-digit numbers: area number + serial number.
Red buses or express buses are the quickest of the group for wide area line since they make fewer stops. These buses are themost comfortable and are designed to seat every passenger on the bus. Express buses come in various colors and the main purpose is to provide commuters easier access to neighboring cities such as Ilsan, Bundang, Suji, Suwon, Anyang and Incheon. Express buses are labeled with a fourdigit number on the front, side and back.
Smaller community buses are with shorter routes that often include residential areas. Maeul buses are easy to spot due to their significantly smaller size in comparison to other buses.