At the beginning of the semester, whoever attends school might think that, “In this semester, I’ll really try hard at studies for a good grade and also never skip any class.” But looking at a long line of people waiting for a school bus, he or she thinks again, “For once, it may be okay to be late.” After suffering through the long waiting lines and the crammed and stifling buses and eventually, being late and repeating it several times, a student who was once enthusiastic may decide to withdraw that class. This is not only the case of early days of a new semester. Attending school is an arduous work. Everyone in SNU would agree.
The routes students use to go to school are largely divided into three: the Seoul National University station, Naksungdae station and Nokdu street. The most crowded time around the stations and bus stops is the period just before the morning classes, held in the first or second hour. In front of the Seoul Nat’l Univ. station, the line waiting for a shuttle bus to come sometimes extends to the entrance of the station.
Last May, the transportation company decided on combining the routes of bus number 5511 and 5512 into one. After the change, the number of buses heading to the Business School (bus number 5511) increased from 11 to 16. And the interval between buses decreased into 4-8 minutes, the half of previous operation time. On the other hand, the buses toward the administration building (bus number 5513) decreased and only 5 buses are currently operating. According to a survey conducted by the Student Government at that time, the number of users of the two buses was almost the same. Considering the fact that combining the two bus routes worsened the traffic congestion, this change was ironical to the students who had currently took the bus 5513 and whose discomfort has doubled.
The problem of transportation is not only confined at Seoul Nat’l Univ. station. The students taking the local village bus, number 02, at Naksungdae station are also having a hard time. To lessen the constant flow of waiting students, the Student Government had operated shuttle buses from Naksungdae station to the College of the Engineering during last October to November. But because of the shortage of its users, it was discontinued within a month. Every morning a huge number of people are waiting for the local bus. But were users of the school bus scarce? What was wrong?
Many students who had once used Naksungdae shuttle bus point out some problems. Firstly, the bus stop was a bit far from the station. Even many people did not know the presence of a new bus. And secondly, destination stations were obscure and different from being announced. After all, if the new means of transportation had been more efficient and advertised, it might have helped alleviate the transportation problems of Naksungdae. The main cause was not the small number of users, the planning and operation was the problem of the unsuccessful shuttle bus.
Then who or what is to blame of this chronic every-weekday-morning transportation problem? It is mainly due to the unusual location of Gwanak campus. Unlike most university campuses including the Yeongeon campus situated in the downtown area of the city, Gwanak campus is sprawled vastly along Mt. Gwanak. The campus is even said to pass the border of Seoul and Gyeonggi-Do; the campus extends itself to Gwacheon. Besides the enormous size of the campus, the campus has only two proportionately small entrances which are difficult to access by foot. The two subway stations, the Seoul National University and Naksungdae, unfortunately, are too far away from the campus to walk. In the busy morning hours, the only way for most students to get to school is by taking either buses or taxis. To come to school, for students, the use of public transportation therefore, is inevitable.
The transportation issues bring out other problems including the safety issues some students are worrying about. As a bus arrives, the many students who have been waiting file into the bus. The bus is soon crammed with students; some fortunate students are sitting and the majority of them are standing. The students have to be careful not to get injured by falling down, or being stepped on by other students while the bus sways. The bus driver may not be able to see the side mirrors because of so many students, which might lead into an accident. The morning transportation problem also brings about the issue concerning public etiquettes. The morning rush around SNU makes some students cutting in the bus line. The way to school presupposes a variety of possible accidents and discomfort that students have to cope with.
The complaints from students are increasing and to solve the many problems the school transportation is causing there should be reinforcements on transportations reaching Gwanak campus. Students should not be tired out even before they reach school; the chronic transportation issue should be thought over with consideration and alleviated with effort.
written by: Yum Sooyun and Lee Song-Yi