Seoul to develop AI system to manage subway congestion

The new service is designed to help analyse the real-time flow of passengers and crowd levels in subway compartments, improving operational efficiency.

Park Jun-hee

Park Jun-hee

The Korea Herald



May 11, 2023

SEOUL – The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday that it would develop an AI-based congestion monitoring system to provide better information to passengers about crowd density at each subway station.

According to Seoul Metro, the operator of the subway service in Seoul, the new service will help analyze the real-time flow of passengers and crowd levels in subway compartments, improving operational efficiency.

Currently, the subway operator monitors crowding and measures the number of passengers per compartment at Line Nos. 1-8 by tracking traffic card information at turnstiles. It also weighs each subway section using load cells and real-time tracking of passengers’ mobile phone data usage to determine the number of passengers on board. Based on the collected information, the train operator then tries to reduce passenger flows in subways by dispersing them to other compartments, the operator said.

In response to rising concerns from subway riders about receiving incorrect data on congestion, especially during rush hours, Seoul Metro said that the service will enhance real-time data accuracy in crowded places.

According to data compiled by the subway operator, the average congestion levels at Line Nos. 1-8 stood at 145.7 percent last year, up 11.5 percent from 134.2 percent in 2019. Line No. 4 had the highest congestion level of 185.8 percent in 2022, followed by Line No. 2 at 172.3 percent, and Line No. 7 at 160.6 percent.

With the upgrade, the subway operator said it hopes to better monitor the level of crowded spaces at subway platforms, stairways and indoor waiting rooms.

“The system will create reliable data, help handle congestion levels and improve such situations,” an official at Seoul Metro said via a press release.

The subway operator plans to inject 500 million won ($377,000) into developing and completing the traffic flow management system by this year’s end to provide efficient services for passengers. The subway operator will then evaluate the reliability of the system through a series of tests during a system evaluation process implementation.

As part of its initiative to streamline subway operations, the subway operator has installed a moveable subway fence at City Hall Station on Line Nos. 1 and 2, to allow passengers to move in one direction and to reduce the chance of collisions. A safety fence that separates sections on staircases at Seoul National University Station on Line No. 2 has been also installed, according to the metro operator.

scroll to top