Buses and Korean Bus Drivers - 34

Korean Transportation

Just like any other subway system, there are a few problems. The subway trains in Seoul Local buses in Seoulfor example, can be jam packed at rush- hour and this is a safety concern. Many readers will have experienced the station at Seoul National Bus Terminal, whereby you are moving literally inches at a time, packed body to body as you walk through the station. In the event of a fire it could be catastrophic. The other main problem is the lack of elevators or lifts in some stations. Despite being a relatively new system, it is not always old-people friendly. On four occasions I unfortunately saw an elderly person lying on the steps inside a subway station, having fallen. Inside many stations, the only choice is to use the numerous and steep steps to exit or enter the station. Overall though, the system is excellent.

Buses and Korean Bus Drivers

Why use the subway system when there is such an extensive bus network and it is also very cheap? The bus service is outstanding, with buses servicing every part of the city and very frequently. Be warned though; the bus drivers in Seoul are usually completely mad, driving at break-neck speeds, which means you get to your destination faster, although you may need to hold onto your seats on the sharp corners. You do not need to  visit the amusement rides at Everland, when you can enjoy a ride with one of Seoul’s bus drivers through the streets of the capital city.

In addition, do not be surprised if the driver gets into any kind of fight or spat with another driver. On more than one occasion during my two years in Seoul, the driver of the bus I was on, stopped the bus in order to get off and get into a verbal/spitting fight with another bus driver or a taxi driver. Koreans can sometimes have short tempers and when driving, this trait sometimes becomes more noticeable. On one bus journey, we had to wait for over ten minutes whilst our driver exchanged verbal insults with another bus driver.

Passengers from both buses had to simple wait and what for a Westerner might be even more surprising, is that the passengers didn’t seem to give two-hoots. The buses are usually very clean and for Westerners, the routes are very often displayed at the bus stop in English. Westerners are very often hesitant to use the buses in Seoul, because the subway is even simpler and also cheap, but the buses are often much faster (outside of rush hour), sometimes cutting up to 50% off of the journey. A typical journey is:

  • Itaewon to Kangnam (Not in rush hour):
  • Bus (78-3): 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Subway: 30 – 45 minutes.

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