Published On: July 10, 2012

Mayor of Seoul Explores Curitiba’s Public Transit

Mayor Park Won-soon

The mayor of Seoul, South Korea, Park Won-soon, who attended the Rio +20 event in Rio de Janeiro, arrived in Curitiba on Friday, June 22, accompanied by a delegation of advisers and technicians from the South Korean capital for the purpose of seeing Seoul’s sister city for himself. Like Curitiba, Seoul has been recognized as a model city in the areas of urban planning, transportation, and environmental awareness.

The South Korean group took the afternoon to conduct a technical visit of the transport system, accompanied by URBS (Curitiba Transit Authority) president, Marcos Isfer, as he toured the Green Line on the Ligeirão Express –- the 28m long bi-articulated bus, with a 250-passenger capacity connecting the Pinheirinho Terminal to Carlos Gomes Square, a distance of roughly 10 kilometers.

“The Curitiba model is an example for the world, and sister city Seoul, with its 10.3 million inhabitants, has a lot to learn, especially with regard to the infrastructural and fare integration that facilitates and accelerates people’s commutes or leisure travel between distant points of the metropolis,” said the mayor, as he traveled through a newly renovated stretch of the former BR-116.

After the visit, urban planning –- supported by a three-pronged land use/transport system/transport strategy as proposed in the 1965 Master Plan — as well as the operation of the integrated transport system were topics of lectures by specialists from the Curitiba Institute for Urban Research and Planning (IPPUC), and URBS in the Brazil Room at Curitiba City Hall.

Besides the mayor and counsel, the International Affairs of the City of Seoul Ambassador, Suh Chunga; the Secretary of Transportation, Byeong Joon Yoon; the Director and Deputy Director of the Division of International Cooperation, respectively, Choi Bong Ju and Ki Ho; and the Secretary of Policy Planning, Kim Jun Ho, made up the team’s delegation.

The third-largest metropolitan area in the world, Seoul occupies an area of 605 square kilometers (smaller than New York City), but the population, including the neighboring cities, especially Incheon, which is an important seaport, 32 kilometers away, balloons to 22.7 million inhabitants. Seoul is South Korea’s largest and most developed commercial and financial center.

The capital is located to the northwest of the Korean peninsula. The urban region is divided by the Han River, an area formerly used for commercial shipping. Shipping activities have since been banned because the estuary is located on the border between North and South Korea, which civilians are prohibited from entering. The city is surrounded by eight mountains, as well as the highland lands of the Han River plain and regions to the West.

The “boom” in Seoul’s transport sector dates back to the era of the former Korean Empire, when the first roads and the Seoul Incheon railroad line were built. Today, three million vehicles use Seoul’s roads and are the cause of constant urban congestion.

According to the mayor, the bus system is operated by Seoul’s Metropolitan Government and the bus transit system relies on a large central terminal and four other peripheral terminals.

“Every day, somewhere in the neighborhood of eight million people use the transportation system — buses and subways which span 287 km in total. The system was officially inaugurated in 1974 with ten lines and 266 stations that connect the various urban districts,” said Park Won-soon.

The mayor says that Curitiba’s Express Transit System with its exclusive lanes –- the pioneering model that preceded Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) –- could be deployed in Seoul with modification in order to further streamline urban mobility by bus. Seoul has been Rio’s sister city since 1960, and São Paulo’s sister city since 1997. Curitiba was officially adopted as Seoul’s sister city in 2006.



{Photo of bus stop “tube” in Curitiba courtesy of Flickr user carlosoliveirareis}

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