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Seoul to expand monthly transit pass to cover Incheon

Nov. 17, 2023 - 16:46 By Lee Jung-youn
Passengers get off subway trains in Gwanghwamun station on Line No. 5 on Nov. 10. (Yonhap)

People traveling from Incheon to Seoul by bus will be able to use an unlimited monthly transit pass from next year, Seoul City said Friday.

It is an expansion to a 65,000 won ($50) pass that gives commuters unlimited access on all public transport within Seoul, and bus rides that depart from Seoul to other metropolitan areas.

The announcement came as Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon and Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok signed a "Seoul-Incheon Transportation Business Agreement" at Seoul City Hall and announced the plans to strengthen the two cities' cooperation on transportation.

Oh called the pass, named "Climate Card," a "new innovation" in transportation development in the Seoul metropolitan area.

"We will do our best to benefit many citizens by actively promoting the expansion of the climate companion card in the metropolitan area, which is promoted as a major transportation policy for people's livelihoods as well as responding to the climate crisis," Oh said after the meeting.

Seoul in September announced the introduction of the public transit pass that gives holders unlimited access to subways, buses, and public bicycles within Seoul for 65,000 won per month. It has been discussing ways to expand the policy to surrounding areas such as Incheon.

Seoul will roll out the card on a trial basis from January to May next year, and formally implement the scheme in the second half of 2024.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon (left) and Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok (right) pose for a picture at Seoul City Hall after signing the new public transportation policy agreement, Friday. (Yonhap)

The plan is part of the agreement between South Korea's capital and its nearby port city, which aims to resolve traffic congestion and encourage citizens to use eco-friendly transportation.

Th two cities also agreed to connect Seoul Subway Line No. 9 and the Airport Railroad Express, making transportation between the two cities more convenient.

In 1999, the government had completed the basic construction to connect the two railroad lines. However, when the Seoul Metropolitan Government demanded financial contribution from Incheon, the discussions fell apart and the Seoul Metropolitan Government returned the related budget to the central government in 2021.

According to the new agreement, Seoul will pay the entire operation cost of the new train, while Incheon and Seoul will split the facility management cost in half.

If direct trains connecting the two sections are deployed, the congestion rate of express trains on Line No. 9 will be reduced by 8 percent, making it possible to travel from Seoul's Gangnam area to Incheon International Airport without transfers.