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Real-time monitoring to let commuters check subway crowding

June 5, 2023 - 14:07 By Kim So-hyun
An AREX rail line platform at Gyeyang Station in Incheon is packed with passengers last month. (Yonhap)

The government is developing a system to monitor how busy subway stations are in the Greater Seoul area on a real-time basis, as part of efforts to avoid accidents due to overcrowding.

Development of the data analysis model will be completed by August, the Integrated Data Analysis Center under the Ministry of the Interior and Safety said Sunday.

Starting with Seoul subway stations in September, the congestion levels at each station will be shown on the Seoul Metro app.

Ridership inside subway cars can be currently viewed on the Seoul Subway app, the official app of Seoul Metro.

Overcrowding at certain metro transfer stations has often led to accidents and emergency situations due to people falling on escalators and staircases, as well as getting stuck in closing subway doors.

The average number of people who pass through Incheon's Gyeyang Station between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on a weekday in April was confirmed to exceed 15,500, after concerns were raised about overcrowding on the platform.

The new model will show how densely packed each subway station is, by figuring out the number of people on the platforms based on how many transportation cards were scanned when going into and out of the station, the arrival and departure times of trains and the size of the platforms.

The degree of congestion will be calculated by dividing the number of people on the platform by the platform area, and categorized into three levels -- “sparse,” “normal” or “crowded” -- based on guidelines in development.

When a metro platform is overcrowded, messages will be displayed outside the station and near the ticket gates asking people to use alternative transport options where available.

The guidelines for the levels of crowding are being developed based on studies of two stations on the Seoul Metro -- Gunja and Janghanpyeong -- and 10 stations on the Gimpo Goldline will be analyzed.

Gunja is where Line Nos. 5 and 7 intersect, and Janghanpyeong is a Line No. 5 station that doesn’t offer transfers. None of the 10 Gimpo Goldline stations offer transfers to other metro lines.

The model is jointly being developed by the Interior Ministry’s Integrated Data Analysis Center, Seoul Metro, Gimpo City and Gimpo Goldline.

The new system will also allow station management staff to see the congestion levels at each station to come up with necessary safety measures in case of overcrowding.