North Korean authorities use trolleys to recapture transport market share
SHARE News NewsEconomy North Korean authorities use trolleys to recapture transport market share Proposal to shift “general markets” to “specialized markets” finds little support among N. Korean leaders Facebook Twitter By Daily NK – 2018.02.19 5:02pm Daily NKQuestions or comments about this article? Contact us at [email protected] North Korea Market Price Update: June 8, 2021 (Rice and USD Exchange Rate Only) RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR US dollar and Chinese reminbi plummet against North Korean won once again North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju ride a trolley through Pyongyang on the night of February 4. On the trolley, Kim emphasized how the country’s mass transit system improves the lives of the people. Image: Rodong Sinmun News News The number of trolley cars and their hours of operation have expanded in Pyongsong City and across the country. This development has elicited mixed reactions from locals. On the one hand, it represents an improvement for the country’s public transport. On the other hand, some residents are seeing it as a way for the authorities to make more money from the people. “There’s been a noticeably large jump in the number of trolleys operating in Pyongsong City,” explained an inside source from South Pyongan Province during a telephone call with Daily NK on February 13. “Electricity provision to the number one line has become almost normal since January, resulting in added convenience.” According to the source, electricity only flows to homes in Pyongsong for three hours per day. However, the trolleys operate from 8am in the morning to 10pm at night, showing that the authorities are strategically distributing electricity. Power failures and service stoppages normally do not extend beyond 30 minutes. “Even just a few years ago, the Pyongsong trolleys suffered from blackouts during rush hour, resulting in a form of transportation paralysis. The cadres and upper class used taxis to travel from our area to Pyongsong Station [about 4 kilometers], but university students and normal residents didn’t have the money to afford it, so many loaded up their bags on their bicycles and traveled into town,” the source explained.For this reason, the improved trolley services come as welcome news to residents without a lot of money. It also serves as a cheap and convenient transport method for the tens of thousands of residents visiting from other areas heading towards Pyongsong’s wholesale market. Due to the added convenience, these improvements are being lauded. However, there are some who have been quick to point the authorities’ financial motives. Private taxis have become powerful market actors for short, medium, and long trips. The trolley improvements can be seen as a way for the authorities to recapture some of the market share. The authorities are able to kill two birds with one stone: they can use the trolleys as a profit maker and as fodder for political propaganda by touting them as an improvement to the people’s lives.“The trolley system is run by the Public Transport Office, and the cost of a fare is 1,000 KPW, which is approximately 50% of the monthly wage of an average state worker. It’s cheaper than a taxi, but similar to the market rate, so the price isn’t a strong draw for residents,” a separate source in South Pyongan Province said.“The trolleys collect a fee of 1,000 KPW for adults and 500 KPW for children regardless of how far the passenger rides,” the source added. “When you consider the size of transportation flows in Pyongsong, the government is sure to be making a lot of profit from the public trolley system.” On February 1, Kim Jong Un visited the newly built Pyongyang Electric Trolley Factory, reported by Korean Central News Agency as saying, “These modern facilities have been completed and the supplementary equipment has been brought in, so regular production has begun. The mass transport trolley system should be added to the face of Pyongyang.” Kim Jong Un then rode a trolley in Pyongyang on February 4, proclaiming that it will improve the lives of the people.