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South Korea: Seoul Subway Lines 1–9 ridership trends and impact of COVID-19 [free access]

August 1, 2020

The first case of COVID-19 in South Korea was confirmed on January 20, 2020. By February 21, 2020, the total number of confirmed cases had increased to 346. By April 9, 2020, South Korea had reported about 10,423 cases and 204 deaths, with over 494,711 people having been tested. The rapid increase in the total number of cases led to a fall in public transport ridership from January 2020 onwards. Seoul Subway Lines 1–9 are operated by multiple operators, including Seoul Metro, Korail, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (SMRT), and Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation.

 

Seoul Subway Lines ridership for Seoul Metro, the operator of lines 1, 2, 3, and 4, fell by 18.9 per cent from January 2020 to February 2020. Ridership for Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (SMRT), the operator for lines 5, 6, 7, and 8, fell by 20.1 per cent from January 2020 to February 2020. Ridership for Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation fell by 17.3 per cent from January 2020 to February 2020.

 

The following table provides information about ridership for Seoul Subway Lines 1–9.

 

Table: Ridership for Seoul Subway Lines 1–9

 

Seoul Metro
(Ridership in million passengers)

Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation
(Ridership in million passengers)

Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation
(Ridership in million passengers)

Month

2019

2020

2019

2020

2019

2020

January

86.93

82.94

56.23

32.57

8.28

7.87

February

73.57

67.30

41.85

26.02

7.03

6.51

March

93.31

54.36

58.97

NA

8.48

5.35

April

93.27

56.87

60.09

NA

8.84

NA

May

96.02

NA

61.61

NA

8.76

NA

June

87.76

NA

55.76

NA

8.10

NA

Note: Ridership figures are provided only for three operators. Korail operates sections of Seoul Metro lines 1, 3, and 4 along with Seoul Metro.

Source: KRiC Railway Industry Information Center

 

The highest passenger ridership has been recorded across lines 1, 2, 3, and 4, which are operated by Seoul Metro and which together span 140 km.

 

The following graph depicts the decline in ridership from 2019 to 2020 for the months of January and February.

 

Figure: Decline in ridership for Seoul Subway Lines across the three operators for the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic (2019–2020)

 

Note: Ridership is given in million passengers per month.

Source: KRiC Railway Industry Information Center