|▲ A Changwon citizen is checking the newly revised bus route map at a bus stop (Source: Gyeongnam News)|
On June 10, Changwon reorganized the city bus route for the first time in 18 years. The city has restructured the previous 150 intracity bus routes into 137 routes, and explained, “The purpose is to enhance citizens’ convenience by improving the safety, punctuality, and speed of local public transportation.” Furthermore, in line with the nationwide trend of taxi fare increases, Changwon has also decided to raise the basic taxi fare from 3,300 won to about 4,000 won, an increase of 700 won. Considering these changes in the transportation environment, citizens and commuting students at CWNU have been expressing their discomfort and concerns.
Regarding the bus route reorganization, Changwon explained that they aimed to improve accessibility to the city center from outlying areas by introducing express buses to these areas. They also sought to enhance efficiency by consolidating overlapping or less efficient routes among local and intercity lines. Kim Sung- chul, a student at the Department of Business Administration, explained, “The bus route revision has made it more convenient for commuting to school, with the new bus route to the campus.” However, there is dissatisfaction among citizens who are not familiar with the new bus route or have experienced increased inconvenience. One Changwon citizen commented, “They may have changed the bus routes for efficiency, but it’s true that it’s confusing. After the route modifications, there are many new things like BRT that we have to adapt to, and it might be inconvenient for the elderly.” Kim Yoon- hwan, Department of Philosophy student, also mentioned, “While there haven’t been many significant changes to the bus routes within Changwon, there are a lot of students who find it inconvenient because bus routes from Jinhae or Masan to CWNU have disappeared or changed a lot.” As a response, on August 26, Changwon reviewed the complaints submitted by citizens and adjusted some of the routes. Changwon’s Director of Transportation and Construction, Je Jong- nam, stated, “We carefully reviewed the citizens’ complaints and additional suggestions to formulate this revised plan. We are committed to doing our best to ensure stable intercity bus routes and efficient operations focused on the needs of our citizens until the completion of the BRT system.”
Citizens are also expressing discontent with the taxi fare increase. Following the decision to increase taxi fares in Gyeongsangnam- do, Changwon moved up the surcharge time from the previous 00:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and raised the basic taxi fare from 3,300 won to 4,000 won since June 10. A taxi driver in Changwon explained, “Although there are fewer passengers due to the increase in taxi fares, once someone gets in, the revenue is good,” and added, “This is because the surcharge time has been moved up from 00:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.” On the other hand, the transportation burden on students commuting to CWNU is increasing due to the increase in taxi fares. Shin Hyun- ho, a student in the Department of English Language & Literature, said, “Just last year, it was about 7,000 won from home to school, but since the fare increase, it now costs about 9,500 won,” explaining that the increase in taxi fares puts financial pressure on commuting.
There is a nationwide trend of increasing or reviewing bus fares. Seoul is considering raising bus and subway fares for the first time in 8 years, while Busan is closely monitoring the situation. The fare increase efforts in major cities are likely to have an impact in other regions as well. Choi Man- rim, Vice- Governor for the Administration of Gyeongsangnam- do, stated in a telephone interview with the Gyeongnam Provincial Daily that, “There have been some demands for an increase, so we are currently reviewing it, but it will take some time to compare and analyze how to do it.” He also mentioned, “we are still in the process of monitoring because there hasn't been a specific proposal from the province.”
As a result, the transportation burden on citizens and students commuting to CWNU has been on the rise. While Changwon has implemented a comprehensive overhaul of bus routes for the efficient operation of public transportation, there are still ongoing concerns and discomfort expressed by citizens. Taxi fare increases are part of a nationwide trend in pricing adjustments, but it is true that such fare hikes can pose a significant economic burden, especially for students. We hope that Changwon will work swiftly to alleviate the transportation burden on citizens through cost- saving measures in public transportation.
By Kim Han-seul, cub-reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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