Experience Korea from the view of an American that just arrived in Seoul. I will post observations, situations and pictures of everyday life.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Life Without a Car?
Ok, I must admit I heard so much about how great public transportation in Korea was, but I still had my doubts. In fact, as we sold both of our cars before moving here I had to hold back a little tear. How was I, who had owned car since college, going to get around without my own keys? Well, as hard as it is to say, "everyone told me so".
I have experienced the wonders and ease of life without a car. I have yet to be late anywhere, wait more than 5 minutes, nor get a speeding ticket since I have been here. By the way you will be amazed when I explain the cost. Bye, bye gas prices.
The buses are clean and run on time. I have witnessed up to five different buses at one stop all going the same way. There was one time after a big snow storm that I found out what a sardine feels like. I just made it on the bus before it was full. For your information, that means there was not an inch to spare in any direction. And there is the occasional old Korean lady that throws her purse across the bus to get a recently vacant seat. Even having experienced all that I am a proud daily Seoul bus commuter.
Now that I have spoken about the bus system let me talk about the subway. I guess they go togther like peanut butter and jelly. Both are good apart but they are more delicious togther. When you use the bus and subway back to back you get a discount and an easy path anywhere in Seoul. The subways are extremely busy but very orderly. Now you might see a sign that says stay on the right. Don't believe it. I think that it is a national sport to walk on the left side of the subway. More people do that than walk on the right. The subway runs on time, quiet, and even the seats are warm. That is important in December and January. While there can be some tight times, I have seen many situations when a young man or woman gladly get up to give their seats to an elderly person. Once again I am a proud Seoul subway commuter.
Now for the icing on the cake. The bus/subway fee is only 900 won or about $.80 with the use of T-money. T-money is type of currency to pay for buses, subway, and some other items. You can buy a card in the subway and refill it anytime you want. The card machine has an English language feature. I will go in detail later about the use of phones, small items, and credit cards with T-money. The card makes life much easier and even saves you money. When swiping the card as you exit you can save money on the transfer between buses and even the subway. Here is the details about the cost.
The conclusion is I like to let someone else drive, save money and still get everywhere I need using the bus and subway system of Seoul South Korea. If I decide to buy a car later, it will definitely spend more time in the parking garage than the road.