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SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- Subways running across South Korea's capital will get contactless gates that will allow passengers to pass through without directly tagging their cards, the Seoul metropolitan government said Thursday.
The city's subway operator plans to inject 2.9 billion won (US$2.4 million) to set up 556 "tagless gates" at subway stations on lines No. 1 to 8 in 2022, according to the city government's proposal aimed at easing infection risks on public transportation.
Passengers will be able to get on trains without tagging their transportation or credit and debit cards at the ticket gates and instead pay through a smartphone app, it added.
The city government plans to start installing the contact-free gates in 2022 and complete setting up 3,340 gates across all stations by 2023.
"There have been reports of this technology being adopted on buses, but that takes two to three seconds. Our task is to reduce this to below 0.5 second, and we aim to secure this technology this year," Seoul Metro chief executive Kim Sang-bum said in a livestreamed meeting of state-run companies and the city government.
Kim added that the subway operator plans to run a pilot program on free subway cards for the elderly before expanding the Bluetooth-based technology.
The plan is part of the city government's blueprint to better tackle the new coronavirus and other potential infectious viruses going forward.
The municipal government said it plans to spend 611.6 billion won for new projects and ongoing projects to prepare for the "post-coronavirus era."
Other projects include training 300 officers who will help epidemiological investigators trace virus patients and developing digital systems to help state-run companies work remotely.
Also among the projects is expanding care services for children, the disabled and the elderly to minimize the fallout from welfare facilities closures and social distancing.
"The post-coronavirus era is an imminent future that is approaching silently, but with a force. Public services that are directly related to the lives of (Seoul) citizens is an area where innovation should be prioritized for the post-coronavirus era," Mayor Park Won-soon said.
South Korea has reported 12,904 cases of the new coronavirus since reporting its first case on Jan. 20, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the total, 1,334 have occurred in Seoul.