At the end of 2020, when COVID-19 third wave hit the country, people either living or working and studying in Seoul were reported to travel less during nighttime, compared with pre-pandemic level, down by a maximum of 50%. According to the Seoul city government’s analysis of communications and transportation with big data released on Wednesday regarding travel patterns of the Seoul city both pre- and post-pandemic, generational differences were observed in the frequency of travel, with a decrease in travel by people younger than 25, including kids and adolescents, by more than half, while those older than 65 showed only a decline of 26% during the same period.
The Seoul Travel Pattern report offers an overview of when, where, and how much time people who either live in Seoul or visit Seoul for work, education, leisure, or medical treatment spend when travelling. The report was compiled by merging and analyzing Seoul city’s public transportation use statistics and big data related to administration of population and businesses, KT’s mobile phone signal data, and the Korea Transport Institute’s traffic assessment.
While the Seoul Life Population released by the Seoul city government and KT provides a sketch of the entire population including residents, people visiting Seoul for work and education, and people existing at some point of time and region, the Seoul Travel Pattern offers a comprehensive understanding of travel patterns not only to and from Seoul but also between certain places.
The analysis suggested that people’s daily movement in and out of Seoul averaged 22.75 million immediately before the COVID-19 outbreak (November and December 2019), but the number dropped by 17.9% to 18.67 million with the spread of COVID-19 (January 2020 to July 2021). This number significantly plummeted with resurgence of COVID cases. When the third wave hit the country (November 13, 2020 to January 20, 2021), the movement of people decreased by 29.9% from a pre-pandemic level. The number of travels on December 13, 2020 stood at 8.85 million, which is only 34.8% of the number of travels recorded on November 1, 2019 (25.45 million) before the pandemic.
The Seoul city’s analysis of commuting patterns resulted that the average commuting time of people in and out of Seoul was reported to be 53 minutes. According to the analysis, a person living iSeoul commute to other parts of Seoul spends an average of 44.7 minutes, whereas a person commuting from Gyeonggi Province to Seoul spends an average of 72.1 minutes. The assessment of the average commuting hours by each subregion showed that people living in Godeok 2-dong, Gangdong-gu had the longest commutes (an average of 58 minutes), while those living in Yeoksam 1-dong, Gangnam-gu had the shorted commutes (an average of 36 minutes).
The Seoul city government will disclose this data to “Seoul City Open Data Square” and update the figures every month so as to facilitate free access and utilization of the data by citizens, students, and businesses. Park Jong-soo, director general of the Seoul city government’s smart city bureau, said that anyone can use the data to create various contents and services and that the city would actively utilize the data to formulate city policies.