August 17, 2008
We really like the way Korean public transportation (official name: Korail) works, as you can see in an older post we made on them. It’s absolutely brilliant and highly efficient, and it’s not like anything we’re used to in Canada. To begin with, it’s MUCH cheaper here in Korea than in Canada. For example, the subway or bus costs you $2.75 (last time we checked) and offers free transfers between the two. It does not allow you to transfer to the intra-city Go Buses, though, which are ridiculously overpriced themselves (an hour busride from Pickering to Brampton will set you back $8-9). Here in Korea, though, taking the bus to our schools costs us 90 cents. The subways charge by distance, though, while the TTC of Toronto just offers a flat rate, but – still – taking a 45 minutes subway ride from Bucheon to Seoul sets us back $1.30 (not even half of the TTC fare), while taking the 25 minute air-conditioned bus costs you $2.20.
What’s even cooler about the public transportation system here in Korea, though, is how you can pay. Buy yourself a refillable card for $10 (or get an old one from a friend, like we did from Mark and Katrina), put on $10-50 or so, and use it until it runs out. The benefits of using these refillable cards is that they are used for many things. You can swipe them to get on either the subways, the local buses, or even the intracity buses. As well, for some special cards – like Martina’s T-Money card – you can use them to pay for other things, like vending machines (which we were confused about in our other video on Korean Subways). For the subways and buses, as they charge you by distance, it’s really quite smart how they charge your cards: when you swipe your card upon getting on the bus or subway, you are charged the minimum 90 cent fee. When you get off you swipe your card again. The distance is calculated, you are charged the extra amount, and the remaining balance is shown on your card. How awesome is that! Now, if you don’t swipe your card on the way out, you will be charged the maximum distance, so always remember to swipe out!
We made a video explaining how the subway works, and – more importantly – how to refill your subway card when it gets low on funds. Luckily we had our friend Sasha with us as well to show you how to use the subway if you don’t have one of those cards. You can buy individual tickets at the subway station, or pay cash if you’re taking a bus, but it costs you 10 cents extra. Sure, that’s not much of a penalty. The real penalty is not using the supercool cards! As well, the biggest problem with buying tickets individually at the station, though, is that – as foreigners – our Korean is more than likely horrible, so the ticket vendors will not understand where you want to go, no matter how accurate you think you are with your pronunciation. In that case, just bring a map with you and point to where you want to go, and save practicing your Korean for another day.Â Other than that, check out the official Korail website if you want to learn more about how the subways around here work.