Recently I needed to head into Seoul one evening. I had to stay overnight in preparation for a shoot for Korea Today. This required me to take a different bus from school into Seoul. When researching the best way to do this, I came across the ultimate bus stop sign.
Taking a look at the above screen from the bus stop, you’ll see a lot of information. To the casual observer, it looks just like any other bus stop sign in Korea. I mean, what you’re really wanting to know is when exactly is that next bus coming, right? But closer inspection will reveal a lot more information.
The Bus Arrival Screen
This is the standard screen shown at many Korean bus stops. It has a numerous buses listed, the number of stops they are currently away, and which buses are approaching. However, what caught my eye was the green bus at the top. It’s a Maeul (vilage) bus. These typically do not travel for long distances, and in Dongtan, are not on any screen or mobile phone app. Maeul buses dart in and out of neighborhoods and are an incredibly efficient way to travel in a town – but rarely do you know when they are actually coming! Not so with this screen. I can see that the next bus is 10 minutes away – AWESOME!
Another great feature of this Korean bus stop sign is a tie-in to local traffic. Presumably this isn’t for those needing to drive along Korea’s crowded streets, but for those estimating how long the bus might take getting to those areas. It’s the first time I’ve seen traffic indicators on a sign of this nature (they are usually posted in massive overhead displays for drivers). It’s a brilliant addition that can greatly assist commuters in planning their travels during rush hour.
Don’t be late for the train!
However, the item that really blew me away on the display was the little gem shown above: subway station information. WIth Myeonghak Station only a few hundred meters away, the bus stop sign included information about the “up” and “down” routes for this Line 1 station. On the screen , you can see the top (up) line has two trains approaching. One is headed to Cheongnyangni Station, while he second train is only going as far as Guro. This information was a surprise to see on a number of different levels, especially since buses and subways are “rival” forms of transportation. However, from a commuter’s point of view, it’s very welcome, since it allows one to make a decision on which mode of transportation is easier to catch and get one to the desired destination.
As public transportation continues to expand in Korea, government entities continue to increase the offerings to the public. This is by far the most advanced bus stop sign I have seen in the nation, but I also wonder if it includes too much data? All of it is helpful, but is it really necessary? After all, what the majority of passengers really want to know is when is the next bus coming and how many minutes are between buses.
What do you think? What information should be on a bus stop sign?