|A double-decker bus transports passengers to Jamsil, Songpa-gu, Seoul, from Hanam, Gyeonggi Province. Courtesy of Gyeonggi Province|
By Kang Seung-woo
Newly elected Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Jae-myung wants to bring back the region's old bus systems, abolishing those devised by his predecessor.
According to Lee's transition team, Wednesday, Gyeonggi Province will revive a system issuing limited licenses to airport buses, not intercity ones, while scrapping a plan to introduce a semi-public bus system for express buses connecting downtown Seoul with satellite cities.
The two policies to be removed were pushed ahead by Nam Kyung-pil, who was the Gyeonggi governor from 2014 to 2018 and lost to Lee in last month's election.
Under the limited license system, bus firms did not have to follow the distance scale rate system legislated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, but could fix the price on their own according to their profitability forecast.
Intercity buses, however, have a fixed fare system regulated by the transport ministry.
Critics heavily criticized Nam's administration and accused him of pushing forward his policy without preparing adequately or seeking consensus from the region's bus companies.
Lee repeatedly took issue with the new systems during the election campaign, claiming Nam's policy would only help keep a few bus operators in the black, giving them indefinite route licenses which are public assets.
Under Nam's governorship, the local government issued intercity licenses to three bus companies on June 2 after their limited licenses for 23 routes expired.
"Among three operators, one, running routes in Suwon area, has yet to fully secure vehicles for service, so it is possible to revoke the company's license based on the Passenger Transport Service Act," an official of the transition team said.
"In addition, two others, one in charge of routes in Ansan and the other in Seongnam and northern Gyeonggi Province, have operated bus services, so they are not likely to suffer from any fallout from switching licenses once again."
When it comes to the semi-public bus system, Gyeonggi Province will introduce a bidding system for bus routes, under which a winning bidder will provide bus services on behalf of the local government for a specified time period.
"The limited license system is an administration setting principles correctly," said Rep. Kim Kyung-hyup of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, who heads the transition team's transport policy.
"In addition, the bidding system will ensure the public nature of the service, and eventually serve as a new model case of public transportation."
On April 20, the local government began operating the semi-public bus system on 59 routes in 14 cities and counties out of 24 within the province.