Seoul city to offer free public transit on days with high fine dust levels

2017.05.29 13:29:49 | 2017.05.29 13:30:23

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The Seoul city government will encourage drivers to keep their cars at home and use public transportation instead by offering free rides on days when fine dust level exceeds 50 micrograms per cubic meter and the following day is forecast to be ‘very bad’ with dust levels staying above 100㎍/㎥ for more than three hours.

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon revealed the plan over the weekend while holding public debate to combat worsening air pollution from fine particle matters.

The city government will urge drivers with even- and odd-numbered registration plates to take turns to drive on alternate days when fine dust levels exceed 50㎍/㎥, a measure currently imposed on vehicles of public officials during dust-sensitive days.

Running public buses and subways free would cost the city administration 3.6 billion won a day. Given dust levels had reached alarming levels seven days on average, the Seoul government would incur an annual deficit of 25 billion won ($22.3 million) from the measure, Park said.

“But what’s more important than the city finance is the public health,” he said, adding that the country must have a will to combat fine dust as if in a war.

He cited a report by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that projected premature deaths in South Korea from air pollution would jump to 52,000 by 2060 from 17,000 in 2010.

Seoul and satellite areas Gyeongi Province and Incheon City can take emergency actions when pollutant conditions are equally bad. But Seoul under special mayoral act will take independent actions in the capital by closing down public parking lots and enforcing odd-number drive during heavily pollutant days.

By Kim Je-gwan

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