One Card Fits All: Integrated Public Transport Fare System

Case Study

One Card Fits All: Integrated Public Transport Fare System

The integration of modal fares between public  transportation means and services within public transportation means was initiated in 2004 as part of the series of reform of the public transportation system in Seoul.

Case study city(ies)
Case study country(ies)

The goals of fare integration using the smart card can largely be divided into four aspects:

1) Contribution to the minimization of transfer penalties

  • Reduction of transfer time by allowing integrated payment of the fare regardless of transferring, by integrating the fare between bus-bus and bus-subway.
  • Reduction of transfer time by digitizing the payment and collection of fares.

2) Increased usage of buses by enhancing the efficiency of transferring

3) Reducing traffic congestion caused by the improved modal split

4) Encouraging safe driving by removing the incentive of optimizing the number of passengers as in the past distance-based fare system


Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG)


In 1997, the number of bus corporations in Seoul reduced from 103 to 57, and the remaining bus corporations operated within a structure of excessive competition toward profitable routes, the unilateral closing of low-profit routes, and the connection of the number of passengers to profit. With this structure, the bus corporations were left on a path of decreasing quality of service, such as head-running, violent driving, the rejection of elderly or disabled passengers, and violation of traffic signals.

The declining level of road service not only caused a reduction in driving speeds, but also poor quality of bus services in various forms. As a result, the modal share of buses displayed a continual decrease from 30.7% in 1996 to 26.7% in 2002. The reduced number of passengers led to poor management, which caused increase in fares, and a combination of poor service and increased fares became sufficient causes for citizens to use buses less as a main means of transportation.

Solutions deployed

Integrated Public Transport Fare System

Smart Solution(s) deployed by the case
Results and Impacts

The Integrated modal fare system can be summarized as the having achieved the following five effects:

1) Reduced public transportation costs for users

2) Increased efficiency in operation due to reduced times in the payment of bus fares

3) Enhanced connectivity between public transportation means

4) Increased number of public transportation users

5) Increased user satisfaction of public transportation services

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SMG-03_OneCardFitsAll.pdf 530.32 KB