Seoul Mayor Considers Buyout of Fare-Hike Subway Line

Mayor Park addressing the citizens in meeting

Shortly after Park Won-soon became the new Mayor of Seoul last fall, he announced a hike in subway and bus fares by 150 won (US$0.13) from the original 900 won-fare to make up among others for rising energy costs, the rise having taken effect in February. Within just two months, privately owned Subway Line 9 unexpectedly announced on its website that fares on Line 9 would increase by a further 500 won starting from June 16th of this year to compensate from its mounting deficit. This caused outrage among Seoulites, the Seoul Metropolitan Government responding that the rise was not just unacceptable, but “technically impossible”, threatening to revoke the company’s operational rights if the price-rise goes ahead. Last week, Park suggested a buyout of Line 9 from MKIF assets, a subsidiary company of the Australian financial giant Macquarie Group, winning support of thousands of netizens. With the scheduled price-hike being less two months away, the City of Seoul vs Line 9 feud is all but over.

From news1:

Mayor Park Won-soon “Referendum on buyout of the Line 9”

Mayor Park has decided to consult the Seoul citizens on the potential buyout of the Seoul Subway Line 9, the subject of controversy over sudden hike on fare and suspicion of special favor.

Park said on the 20th at the Seoul University lecture “rather than paying the massive fee for maintenance to the management company (to cover the cost deficit) some have expressed the opinion of buyout. After the investigation on the bribe allegation surrounding the private investors, I will consult the Seoul citizens for a final decision.”

Park added “unless the operator apologize first for causing much confusion and public anger by unilaterally announcing fare hike, there will be no negotiation”, adding “this occasion should serve as an opportunity to reflect on private capital investment and privatization.”

He also mentionned that many Twitter users had proposed for “a buyout from Macquarrie by setting up a citizen investment trust.”

The City of Seoul has begun auditing the department and the operator in charge of the management of the Line 9. The proposal to head the audit team by a citizen oversight ombudsman is under discussion.

A hearing next week is expected to open to determine whether or not to dismiss the current president of Metro Line 9.

Unexpected announcement of the price-hike on Line 9's website

Comments from Daum:

나이브:

This is an example of the sovereignty still being exercised by the citizens. But there are many idiots in this country wanting to be slaves. This country could only move forward if we rid of those people.

지니의 꿈:

Park may be too busy to run the city because he is preoccupied with cleaning up after the mountain of trash the previous mayors left behind. He ought to re-run for mayor and run the city right.

악플의달인:

Seoul should really buyout, even if it means paying more tax. And please lock up that merchant Rat after rigorous audit process.

숭어:

Such a praise-worthy mayor. Those conservatives foaming on the mouth about how much of a pinko commie he is, shame on you guys. If Nah became mayor, what would have happened? You conservative folks, shut your mouth and reflect on it.

우리집머슴:

Mayor Park does not want to take any responsibility at all! If he wants to consult the citizens, who will actually want to pay? And then he will turn around and blame the citizens! He is not trying to take any initiatives but trying to put the onus on the citizens, this only goes to show his incompetency. Those poor Seoul citizens, they need someone with backbone, willing to bear the cross.

PARK:

Such a great mayor

써기:

Communicating with the citizens, this is a genuine mayor.

고바라기:

I want to contribute what I can ^^ I don’t need any profit rate.

Abc:

If that national bitch Nah became the mayor, the Line 9 fare would have been $100, ke ke ke

CADRO:

If we had a Saenuri mayor, the fare would have been 3,000 Won. If you don’t have money, don’t live in Seoul.

고냥이장수:

Fucking hell… so who the hell still voted the Rat-party [derogatory term for the Saenuri Party]???? The ones without brain???

숲을봐야:

To those who say we don’t need to support the people living along the Line 9 because they are rich… The rich folks there don’t ride the subway, they drive the fancy foreign cars… It’s for the day laborers, security guards, albas, and restaurant workers who have to go there to work.

누리:

So jealous of Seoul, having such a nice mayor…

피노키오파프리카:

I really like this Mayor Park. I live in Gyeonggi-do but the Seoul folks really voted well this time. I want to applaud them for this.

이카루스:

I have never seen an article with so many comments with praises. Mayor Park, fighting!

Loveveron:

Past mayors, you getting this? This is the real politics, a true administration… This is how the administration is carried out. Your job is not wasting our tax money on vanity projects and leaving us with mountains of debt…

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  • Brett Sanbon

    Thats really cool that the city would take measures to protect its citizens.

    I dont take line 9 but I imagine it would only pour over into other lines after a short time. That would end up costing a regular rider over 20,000 won per month more than they are spending now. Prices would be close enough that more people would just take a taxi if they are travelling short distances.

  • Killswitch

    Good effort by the Seoul mayor. The Macquarie group’s main business model is to buy into infrastructure and then gradually jack up the prices, ie Sydney airport. Good to see a local government not taking their shit.

    Next thing is for the Seoul metro people to go to Sydney and show the state government how to build a world class metro system. Our government can’t even get a unified ticketing system like T Money going. The Koreans are so far ahead!

    • Anonton

      You can sure say that again! Its hard to call ourselves a first world country with the total lack of infrastructure we have here.

  • achan
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