Subway line 9 operator drops fare hike plan
By Kim Rahn
The operator of Subway line 9 in Seoul has scrapped its plan to raise fares by about 50 percent, following citizens’ criticism and conflict with Seoul City that opposed the increase.
Seoul Metro Line 9 Corp., a private entity, issued an apologetic statement Wednesday to announce that it will put off its fare hike plan.
Its decision comes three weeks after it posted an announcement on its website and subway stations to increase the basic fare to 1,550 won from the current 1,050 won starting June 16.
“We tried to raise the fare to relieve growing deficits according to an agreement with the city government. But we’ve caused trouble to citizens while having an argument with the city. We apologize for causing public concern,” the operator said.
“As Seoul City suggested, we make a public apology first and will resume negotiations with the city government,” it said.
The operator said it would delay the fare hike plan and charge the same 1,050 won as lines 1 to 8.
For the line constructed by private firms, Seoul Metro Line 9 said on April 14 it would raise the fare, claiming it is allowed to set its own price according to the original agreement.
Seoul City has claimed the operator didn’t discuss the issue with it and the unilateral hike was unfair, taking due process to dismiss the corporation’s CEO, which the operator claimed was unacceptable.
The city government welcomed the apology.
“We’ll resume talks with Seoul Metro Line 9 and review problems about the fare system and private investment projects. We’ll try to secure citizens’ interest as much as possible,” said Yoon Joon-byeong, assistant mayor for city transportation.
He said it is too early for the sides to reach an agreement and to say whether they will increase the fare by a smaller amount than the planned 500 won.
“We will seek legal advice on the clauses of the original agreement about which we and the operator had different opinions, such as the independent authority about price setting. We’ll also amend the agreement because some conditions have been changed since it was drawn up before operation of the line began in 2009,” Yoon said.