Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Transportation in Korea, Competitive but Still Dangerous

According to this article in the Korea Times, Korea is near the top of the list of OECD countries for affordable transportation.

South Korea’s transportation costs are the sixth cheapest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a report.

Congratulations to Korea in maintaining affordable buses and subways and making it so affordable for people to own and maintain a car. And although the cost of taxis is not near the top of the cheapest list, it is still darned cheap to take a taxi in Korea (even cheaper if you live in the provinces like I do).

One expert even quipped the following:

Korea’s overall transportation cost is relatively low, the sixth cheapest. If we lower fuel prices and keep the low public transportation fares and car maintenance costs, Korea will become the most competitive country in terms of transportation expenses,’’ a researcher of the institute said.

Someone should remind this researcher where Korea stands on the OECD list of traffic accidents. Now, lets factor in the financial costs of the accident rate. THEN it doesn't look so pretty, does it?

As the victim of 5 motor vehicle accidents during my time in Korea; all of which were someone else's fault (REALLY!! and legally) I can tell you that although it may seem like a good thing that Korea's public transportation is cheap and it is easy to own and maintain a car these two concepts are at odds with each other. Why offer cheap public transportation AND cheap driving? Maybe if Korea took a hint from Japan and other small countries and made driving financially burdensome for most of the population, then MORE people would have to take public transportation and there would be a few less idiots on the road making the accidents. Of course, one would then have to address the problem of aggressive and outright dangerous taxi and bus drivers; but I digress.

It's great that the cost of transportation is low here. I definately benefit from the low costs as a driver. My wife often takes taxi's and public transportation so I am happy for those low costs. But if we are going to be a hornblower about our transportation system then we should also factor in the loss of life and limb and the financial, emotional and personal costs associated with that; for example, the loss of man hours at work due to accidents and traffic gridlock. Perhaps it would be better for the government to focus on reducing the number of drivers and improving the overall public transportation infrastructure. Now, THAT would be something to brag about!


EFL Geek said...

I completely agree with everything you have written. Just skimming your front page and it looks like you've got a great blog here.

fencerider said...

Thanks for the positive comment (just starting i have so few :(
I have been on your blog a time or two also...good stuff.

Gdog said...

Hey, nice blog so far! Yes, I agree about Korea's traffic jams and annual street carnage. It should be an Olympic sport! ;)