Public Transportation Use in Seoul Drops by 22 Percent Due to MERS


Due to the MERS scare in Korea, many citizens in Seoul are avoiding leaving their homes for non-essential reasons. This has led to a large decrease in the number of passengers on the city’s buses and subway lines.

The number of people riding Seoul’s buses and subway trains has particularly decreased on weekends and during non-peak periods on weekdays. This illustrates that some people are choosing to only use public transportation when it’s absolutely necessary, but are still having to use it to get to and from work and school during rush hour.

On Sunday, June 14, 5,698,000 passengers used Seoul’s public transportation system. This is 1,599,000 (or 21.9 percent) fewer than on Sunday, May 31, which was the first day on which the MERS scare began in earnest.

To break down the numbers, there were 807,000 (20.5 percent) fewer passengers on Seoul’s buses on June 14 than on May 31, and 792,000 (23.6 percent) fewer passengers on the subway. It’s therefore estimated that there was a profit loss of 590 million won (approx. $530,000 USD) from lost bus fare and 650 million won (approx. $583,000 USD) from lost subway fare.

There has also been a considerable decrease in the number of people taking public transportation on weekdays as well. On Monday, June 15, there were 1,820,000 (14.4 percent) fewer people riding the city’s buses and subway trains than there had been on average during the fifth week of May.

Weekday transportation use suffered a 932,000 (14.1 percent) passenger decrease on buses, and a 888,000 passenger (14.7 percent) drop in subway users. Estimates put the amount of revenue lost at 680 million won (approx. $610,000 USD) for buses, and 720 million won (approx. $646,000) for the subway.

Seoul Transport says, “The decrease in public transportation is larger on weekends when people are engaging in optional activities such as outings and shopping, compared to the high demand on weekdays when people are commuting to work and school.”

As of June 18, there have been 165 cases of MERS reported in Korea, and 23 deaths. 24 people diagnosed with MERS have recovered and been discharged from the hospital so far.

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