Let me introduce ‘TAYO’ bus, the Seoul’s successful transportation event

     In this era of complexity, most global metropolises are suffering from heavy traffic. In order to mitigate this problem, we have been encouraged to take public transportation. Although public transportation systems are becoming more developed, still they are not competitive with driving an own car, even if bus fees are decreased. Thus far, many actions bus companies or local governments have been taken, have not worked well. What actions could be suggested in terms of making more people to take buses? I would like to introduce a good example of nudging people to take buses without a sort of direct actions, such as reducing bus fees a lot, improving card system (ORCA), or ameliorating bus facilities.

     Last year, Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) painted an animation character, named ‘TAYO’, on buses for celebrating Children’s Day on May 5th. TAYO is one of most popular kid animation in Korea and originally SMG was supposed to set to run them for a few weeks as a temporary event. It is because the event was not for solving a kind of transportation problems but just for giving ‘presents’ for kids. But unexpectedly, the reactions of people were plainly explosive. I don’t know how much the animation TAYO is popular to children, but as you can figure out from the picture below, the event draws a plethora of people (according to the SMG, it was over 40,000.) Surely, most of the adults were drawn by their children.

     This unexpected response led another unexpected phenomenon. Parents whose children stuck to TAYO began to taking buses when going out with them instead of riding their own car. Consequently, the TAYO event caused an increase in the number of bus users.

     Still the most of TAYO buses remain and are running with the ardent backing of children and their parents. The event was selected as ‘the most successful policy of Seoul’ in 2014, and now, with its popularity, it is being spread out to other cities in Korea. The TAYO bus event has many potentials. It can be used not only for the celebration event but also for an education program for traffic safety, and can be combined with other social programs as well.

     I cannot say the event totally solve the Seoul’s transportation problem, but can say this could be an exemplar of nudging people to take public transportation and be adapted to the Seattle’s traffic problem.