After many delays, Seoul finally opened its newest subway line, Line 9, on Friday. As a big fan of Seoul's subway system, I have been impatiently checking the news in an effort to ride the line on its opening day---heck, I would have been at the opening ceremony if I could!---but sadly, I missed it by two days.
After finally walking down into the station I've walked past (longingly, I might add) for the past several months, I discovered just how nice this new underground tunnel was for myself. It sure is pretty. Everything is grey or silver coloured, even vending machines, despite the "Gold Line" designation it's been given. Everything looks shiny, clean, and new.
But there are a few things I noticed were lacking. I was disappointed to see that the trademark coloured stripe on the wall is missing. The station could use a splash of colour---and it would be helpful for the transfer stations on other lines, too. I'll let it pass for now, seeing as it's still a new line, but that gold stripe better get itself on those walls soon. And I also noticed that all subway stations on this line look exactly the same. Something I've loved about other lines is that most stations are uniquely designed---for example, Gangnam Station (Line 2) has its black and white circular tiles; Chungmuro Station (Lines 3 and 4) looks like a cave with its grey, rocky walls; Samgakji Station (Lines 4 and 6) has a war mural---giving each station its own character, and allowing subway users to quickly know what station they're at. Here, they all blend together.
The station also has some amazing map additions (okay, probably something not many people would get excited about, but I love it). Each station in the entire system comes equipped with lots of neighbourhood maps so users can find their way to attractions outside the stations, but at all stations on the gold line, they have two kinds of maps: one regular drawn map and one real-view aerial map. Aerial maps are awesome.
The train cars themselves are different too. First, trains only have four cars---half or less than half of other lines. Inside, the yellow handle bars alternate height for easier access. The seats are very comfortable, I'm told it's because they're a little wider, and the space underneath seats has been left open, which as far as I can remember doesn't happen with other lines. And there are no doors in between the cars, making it easier for users with wheelchairs.
Line 9 has an express line, too, meaning some trains skip stations and only hit the main ones. I thought it might be confusing, but it seems organized and well posted. Lots of volunteers are on hand now to help people figure it all out.
My first ride on the newest subway line was exciting. Now I'm looking for more reasons to go to Gangnam so I can ride it again.