Scaling up transit sharing in Seoul | Knowledge Hub | Circle Lab

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Policy case
Scaling up transit sharing in Seoul

Citizens are rallying around the sharing economy as a solution to the pressing challenges they face. Cities, which are perfectly positioned to enact big changes on a human scale, have the potential to lead this movement. Seoul, a city of 10 million people, is a shining example of how to do just that.


The rapid industrialization of Seoul, and the more recent economic slowdown, however, have come with a heavy price including high unemployment, housing costs, and air pollution. Within Seoul, there has been little peer-to-peer exchange of goods. Like other economies marked by high levels of consumption, people tend to buy things new rather than share. This consumption mindset has led 49 percent of households into debt and created a massive waste management challenge as nearly 9,000 tons of trash is generated by Seoul every day.

Along with environmental problems, rapid growth also created social challenges. As Seoul expanded into a megacity, people became more and more isolated. In the last 10 years, the number of seniors living alone in Seoul has grown from 90,000 to 230,000 and the suicide rate in Seoul has nearly doubled from 1,376 to 2,391, which has contributed to South Korea leading OECD countries in suicide per capita. The fast pace of life in Seoul has contributed to South Korea ranking second in hours worked and having one of the lowest happiness scores among OECD countries.


Seoul has made sharing services part of its transport demand management policy, which targets individuals without cars. The city government is working in partnership with NGOs and private companies to make sharing an integral part of Seoul’s economy.

The city’s car sharing policy aims to have 2,000 stations across the city (5 stations per city district) by 2030. The city also provides bike and scooter sharing services. Public transportation and sharing cards can be used to access most services.

In particular, within the Seoul Car Sharing Program, the City subsidised 50% of car parking spaces for car sharing services, booked through an app.

The Sharing City is supported by two intertwined approaches: grassroots citizen-driven commitment and official support for tech startups and other organizations working to catalyze more sharing in Seoul. But rather than taking a top-down approach, the city is acting as partner for emerging sharing initiatives.


The municipal subsidies supported the membership from 373,513, in 2014, to 2.3 million by mid 2018, tripling of user rates. Overall, here are 564 car sharing locations in Seoul with over 1,000 cars that have been shared 282,000 times through companies such as Socar and Greencar. The Seoul Car Sharing program alone is estimated to have saved 486 tonnes of CO2, due to reduced car ownership.

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Photo by Marc Heckner on Unsplash

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