In September, Jukjeon Transport General Partnership (GP) notified the university that its system of free rides on the Jukjeon campus would be changing. As of October 1, the route of bus no. 24 going uphill from the dental hospital to Peace Square will remain free, but those from Peace Square to the front gate will change to paid services. The free rides began in 2014 as a goodwill gesture between Jukjeon Transport GP and Dankook University (DKU) to help improve student welfare, but after six years of operation, the mutual trust between the parties has failed.
In a meeting with the bus company, DKU student council was told that a majority of passengers boarding the bus from Peace Square and Jukjeon Station were trying to get free rides. The exact number of passengers guilty of this action was not given, but council members were told the problem happens intermittently every day. Jukjeon Transport GP said the number of passengers using their services is declining because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of students getting on the bus on campus and riding out to the suburbs for free are impacting the route’s bottom line. The cumulative pecuniary loss has led Jukjeon Transport GP to make the decision to charge for the outgoing segment of the bus route.
The student council met with the chairman of the student welfare committee and a Jukjeon Transport GP administrator to discuss the matter. The student council argued that many students would be inconvenienced by the decision. They promised to improve perception of the program and cooperate with the bus company to address their difficulties if they reconsidered their decision. Jukjeon Transport GP said they understood the concerns of the student council and would have another meeting to reconsider their decision sometime in the future, but that as of now, the plans to charge fees for part of the bus route on campus would go ahead.
|▲ Notification from Jukjeon Transport GP. (Photo From the student council)|
Details of the proposed changes were posted on the university’s SNS including ‘Facebook’ and ‘Everytime’. The council also posted hand-written flyers at each bus stop to advise students who are not on SNS. In the posts, the student council conveyed the changes to the student body and said that all Dankookians (Students of Dankook University) need to think about their role in the incident.
The Dankook Herald interviewed Dankookians impacted by the changes. They all stated they took the number 24 bus due to high slope of the DKU Jukejeon campus. Student Kim Min-kyung (Sophomore, Dept. of Political Science and International Relations), who lives in the dormitory, replied “Going up and down from the school dormitory to the school’s main gate is exhausting and the inconvenience will be amplified when the weather is cold or hot.” Student Kim Hye-jin (Senior, Dept. of Visual Communication Design) said, “Even with the free services it was impossible to use the bus due to their ambiguous schedule. If it is now charging for rides, it will take at least two hours to walk down and come up.” As for those taking rides for free that were longer than permitted, student Kim You-jin (Sophomore, Dept. of Instrumental Music) who majors in Instrumental Music, agreed, “It was easy to get a free ride when you got on the bus in front of the bear statue because the driver was on a break and not usually in his seat.” She also pointed out that this problem could lead to student indifference for free riders. All the Interviewees agreed, the decision by the company was the best way to solve the problem of free riders. However, one of the interviewees said, “It would have been nice if Jukjeon Transport GP had warned us first before executing the new charge system.”
|▲ The hand-written flyers at each bus stop. (Photo from the student council)|
The company also said some passengers attempt to get a free ride, from Jukjeon Station to DKU, by entering through the back door of the bus, when a large number of passengers are boarding. There were also some cases where passengers did not pay the bus fare, even though they were travelling off campus. When confronted by drivers, the students overreacted swearing and using abusive language. This kind of behavior must stop. We have no right to argue when we are at fault. We should be thankful for the generosity of Jukjeon Transport GP and keep in mind when we board that bus we are representing DKU, so our actions matter. Dankookians need to be aware of our role in bringing about this change and should act responsibly when using the bus. Afterall, avoiding paying the bus fare is the same as stealing, and it is a transparent violation of the law.
박소현, 박유정, 권유지 firstname.lastname@example.org