“Double Street” Concept Moves Seoul Toward Smarter Mobility

Double Street Project 2

Double Street Project
Seoul, South Korea, is a densely populated city with typical big-city issues — traffic, overcrowded public transportation and high levels of pollution. The city also is a world leader in public transportation. As urban areas move toward a “smarter” paradigm, it makes sense that the next iteration of the city’s transport system also be developed in concert with smart technology.

In 2016, an interdisciplinary team of students and faculty from the College for Creative Studies led by Associate Professor and Chair of Transportation Design (BFA/MFA) Paul Snyder were invited by the Seoul Design Foundation to participate in a project rethinking mobility in this megacity. Snyder presented the team’s “Double Street” concept at the Seoul Smart Mobility International Conference/Exhibition in September. The team included CCS Mobility Lab students from the BFA and MFA Transportation Design programs, two former architecture students from UCLA, Paul Pangaro, chair of the Interaction Design MFA program and Transportation Design faculty Clyde Foles and Dan Sturges.

The problem: develop a sustainable mobility solution for the future of Seoul that incorporates state-of-the-art technology and efficient service and that addresses the diverse needs of commuters, children, people with disabilities and the elderly.

The answer: complicated. The CCS team’s research revealed that Seoul boasts a small number of commuters who are travelling alone (10%), and yet these few, mostly single-occupant vehicles are taking up enough space on the roads to cause heavy delays or even bring traffic to a frequent and complete stop. Further, the city’s subway stations are numerous, organized, clean and easily navigable by newcomers. But peak travel times produce extreme overcrowding — subway cars experience 237 percent capacity. And South Korea, with one of the worst average commute times of full-time workers, costs the average commuter, who makes $20/hour and spends an hour on the subway, $400/month.

The result: the “Double Street” concept, which addresses Seoul’s greatest mobility issues by relieving the overcrowded subway with an efficient surface road system. The goal was to gradually transform the city’s existing streets into dedicated smart road automated networks — with minimal construction and service disruptions. The team incorporated human-centered research and visionary design thinking from ideation to final design. They also developed a business strategy that breaks down the cost benefits of this future mobility system.

“Double Street” is a sustainable, dual-layer infrastructure combined with a fully automated vehicle system, including all-electric vehicles that operate within a connected network system. This system enables universal access and rapid shared or personal transit for all.

Snyder encapsulated the most important aspects of the “Double Street” concept and smart mobility design: more productive workers who spend less time commuting, healthier citizens who have more communal and green space, and more affordable living space available for growing and aging populations.

“This project is a testament to people worldwide,” said Snyder, “who seek to improve and make a difference for the betterment of all people. We hope this project can express what the College for Creative Studies holds dear, in its dedication to educate and inspire young minds.”