Sunday, May 11, 2014

Thank You, Bus Drivers

The bus drivers here in Korea are cool, fearless, sometimes easily irritable, lay-on-the-horn type, and have a "I'm bigger than you" mentaility when driving. One of the city bus drivers I see more regularly has shocking white hair, wears aviators, and changes gears like he's flying a fighter jet. 

Red lights are optional and the bus drivers are, if possible, more anxious and impatient than the riders themselves to get where they need to go. Express buses to Seoul from my city, where seats are reserved (see below for online-iPhone reservation how to), leave the second the scheduled departure time rolls by. Leaving from Seoul, there's a great stand-by system that let people pay for seats of people who miscalculated their timing and don't get to the bus on time. When arrived at the destination, the express bus drivers stand outside the bus door and bow as each of us passengers get off. 

On the longer trips I've taken (to Busan and Seoraksan National Park), the bus driver has had a set of indoor driving shoes, driving gloves, and a suit and tie hanging behind his seat, you know, just in case. The level of professionalism and pride of ownership - I drive this bus - is so right. I've noticed in other places - taxis and public places like bathrooms and elevators - head shots of those in charge (the drivers, cleaners, operators and maintenance workers). It seems like a good system to me, one that says, "Hey, I'm here working and making life that much nicer for you." 

I use public transportation every single week and at my schools, I'm in the great minority who do so. In Korea, having a car is very special and important. "My car was my first love," one of my co-workers told me as he drove me to a teacher dinner. My current co-teacher just tried for her driver's license last weekend, which I forgot to ask about how it went!

I understand that convenience, freedom, and open road of owning and driving a car. But despite all the practiced patience on the aggravating days of mishaps, traffic, re-routes, and general annoyance that comes with public transport, what a wonderful service. And really, I like not having to drive, I like not having to feel in debt to someone for giving me a ride somewhere, and I like using an efficient system that serves millions of other people every day. I like having the course set out and just being able to choose a time. Going towards downtown from the Express Bus Terminal subway stop, I like that feeling of emerging from underground to see the lovely, smoggy cityscape of Seoul at the Oksu stop. 

So thank you, bus drivers. 감사합니다! Thank you, transportation workers for all you do. Also, you are awesome at parking. 

Booking An Express Bus*
*May not cover every city, every situation 

Online Tutorial for Booking an Express Bus Online :
Online booking is available only in Korean -- this tutorial, though
outdated, provides the key for the information you must enter.

Online Booking Website #1 :
This is the online booking website provided from the above tutorial.
You must use Internet Explorer to book and I believe
this is a Seoul-based online booking service.
As a foreigner, you will need a Korean credit/debit/bank card
and your Alien Registration number (ARC card) to book online.

In-app booking is available only in Korean -- the tutorial 
from above provides the necessary translations.
As a foreigner, you will need a Korean credit/debit/bank card and 
your Alien Registration number (ARC card) to book a reservation.

Online Booking Website #2 :
Used this online booking website to book tickets from my home city 
of Icheon to Busan -- neither the Online Booking Website #1 or iKobus app had 
Busan as a destination option. You must use Internet Explorer to book.
As a foreigner, you will need a Korean credit/debit/bank card
and your Alien Registration number (ARC card) to book online.

If you have any questions, please do contact me -- I'll be happy to share my wisdom ^^

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