Accumulated passenger numbers on the Seoul subway will likely hit the 40 billion mark on Wednesday. Seoul Metro, which operates lines 1 through 4, will become the nation's first subway system to achieve the feat since it began operating the first route back in 1974.
The figure is about 5.6 times the world's population and translates into the 10 million residents of the capital using it once in every three or four days for the past 39 years.
Seoul Metro on Monday said accumulated passenger load at the end of last year reached over 39.7 billion, and 3.84 million people took the metro on average per day in January to February.
In 1974, a mere 230,000 used the subway per day -- today 140,000 people use the subway every day at Gangnam Station alone.
The number of stations also ballooned from nine to 120 over the same period, and the daily operating distance from 3,000 km to 58,000 km. That is enough to make 1.5 round trips around the Earth or travel between Seoul and Busan 68 times.
While operating for four decades, Seoul Metro also has set unique records. To keep drivers awake, it has provided chewing gum since 1996 and by Wednesday, a total of 2 million packs of chewing gum will have been consumed, meaning drivers chew 350 packs of gum a day.
Meanwhile, Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit, which operates subway lines 5 through 8, has transported about 12.92 billion passengers since November 1995. Seoul Metro's line 9 began operating in July 2009 and around 500 million passengers have used the service since then, bringing the accumulated passenger load of the capital’s total nine subway lines to 53.4 billion.