Seoul Metro announced that it would remove seats to relieve congestion during rush hour at a press conference Tuesday.
The organization’s new plan will be tested on subways running on Line Nos. 4 and 7 starting from January. Seating areas will be removed in two subway cars in each train closest to the subway stations’ exits, which often experience heavy congestion during rush hour.
The removal of seating areas was prioritized on Line Nos. 4 and 7 due to their high congestion levels during rush hour. According to data collected by Seoul Metro, Line Nos. 4 and 7 still exceeded 150 percent in terms of their peak congestion levels during the third quarter of 2023, recording up to 193 percent and 164 percent occupancy, respectively. The two lines also had fewer critical operating components located under their seating areas.
By removing the seating areas, Seoul Metro said up to 12.6 square meters of space would be made available for more passengers on the subways.
Additionally, as of Monday, Seoul Metro has increased the number of subway trains operating during rush hour on Line Nos. 4 and 7, with four more in operation on Line No. 4 and two more routes in operation on Line No. 7.
By expanding both the number of subways operating and removing the seating areas, Seoul Metro hopes to reduce congestion and improve its transport capacity.
“We are making various efforts to reduce congestion, by increasing the number of subway trains operating during rush hour and providing safety personnel to assist passengers during rush hour at major stations,” said Baek Ho, CEO of Seoul Metro. “If our new plan proves to be effective on Line Nos. 4 and 7, we will expand it to other lines in the future and continue to make improvements to make subway rides more comfortable for the passengers.”