Seoul to start river bus service in October

Bomi Yoon

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks during a press conference at Seoul City Hall, Thursday, to unveil the operational plan of its river bus service. Yonhap

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon speaks during a press conference at Seoul City Hall, Thursday, to unveil the operational plan of its river bus service. Yonhap

By Jung Da-hyun

Seoul will launch a river bus service in October that will connect Magok in the northwestern part of the capital to Jamsil in the southeast along the Han River waterway, the city government announced, Thursday.

The fare will be 3,000 won ($2.25) per ride and the city will allow passengers with Climate Cards to use the river bus. The card is Seoul’s unlimited transit pass that debuted last week.

The boat will stop at seven docks: Magok, Mangwon, Yeouido, Jamwon, Oksu, Ttukseom and Jamsil. They were selected based on comprehensive consideration of regional characteristics, such as housing, business, commerce and tourism. Factors such as transportation demand, connectivity with other public transport and accessibility were also considered.

The operating hours for the service will be from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

During weekdays, the river bus service will run at 15-minute intervals during rush hours — from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. — and at 30-minute intervals during other times and on weekends.

A specialized express line, only stopping at Magok, Yeouido and Jamsil, will operate 16 times during commuting hours, providing a quicker 54-minute journey compared to the general route that takes 75 minutes.

The city will deploy a total of eight eco-friendly hybrid passenger vessels, with each boat capable of carrying up to 199 passengers at a time. It will travel at an average speed of 17 knots, according to the city government.

A conceptual image of a river bus / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government

A conceptual image of a river bus / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government

The city government intends to expand routes gradually, fostering cooperation with Gimpo whose Ara Han River Gabmun dock was initially considered as the point of departure.

The river bus is equipped with racks to accommodate up to 22 bicycles and also has designated wheelchair seats.

The city government envisions the river bus to become an innovative mode of transportation, extending public services from land to water.

Emphasizing the river bus’s potential beyond transportation, the city aims to integrate it with tourism resources.

This river bus features individual tables for each seat, enabling passengers to work or dine. A cafeteria onboard and strategically placed windows allow passengers to enjoy scenic views of the Han River during their journey.

The number of users is expected to increase from 800,000 people next year to 2.5 million in 2030, according to a Seoul city official.

“The river bus will not only provide a delightful commute for citizens, but will also contribute to addressing the climate crisis through eco-friendly public transportation,” Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said.

“The city intends to enhance its competitiveness by leveraging the river bus as an appealing tourism asset.”

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