Jaehak OH (KOTI)

A personal dialogue with
Dr. Jaehak OH
Vice-President, National Transport Strategy Planning
The Korea Transport Institute, Korea


  1. First, we are interested to know a bit about yourself. Could you tell us a little bit?
    [Dr. Oh] “At present, I am the Vice-President for Comprehensive Transport Research. I graduated from the Seoul National University and achieved my PhD degree for transport studies at the University College London in 1990. Following this, I joined the British transport consultancy firm, Steer Davies Gleave. Since 1992, I had been working for KOTI, only taking a one-year absence during 1995 to take a position as Lecturer at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. My research experience in transport field covers various aspects, including national transport strategy, urban transport planning and policies, transport demand analysis, intelligent transport systems and logistics and so forth. Between 2006 and 2010, I was the Project Manager for the national R&D program, “Transport Connectivity and Transfer Systems Technology Development”. This programme produced a number of technologies for promotion public transport modes through innovating railway station and bus terminal operation. In 2009, I received the Presidential Prize in the national idea competition for proposing an innovative project, “KTX Economic Zone Development”. During the past 25 years, I had managed over 60 projects in KOTI and had played a key role in formulating many national transport policies and infrastructure plans for the Korean government. On the other hand, I had been involved in many international academic activities, including serving as the Secretary General for the 2001 WCTR Seoul Conference. At present, I am also a Steering Committee Member and Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Transport Policy.”


  1. Why do you think public transport is important for Korea?
    [Dr. Oh] “Korea was highly populated and a fast growing economy. It is imperative to provide efficient, environmentally sustainable, and safe transport accessibility. The investment and promotion of public transport is the most effective policy to deal with rapid urbanization and motorization especially in urban areas. The provision of basic accessibility through public transport is one of the fundamental rights for people’s welfares. The most critical factor for the development of public transport is to make a secure and sustainable financial resources for funding public transport infrastructure development and operation.”


  1. What has KOTI practiced in order to achieve such a vision?
    [Dr. Oh] “KOTI is a national research institute that has 27 years of history, and is specializing in innovating transport policies and technologies for all modes of roads, rail, aviation and logistics. Since its establishment in 1985, KOTI has consistently put public transport into the highest policy agenda among the national transport investments. KOTI’s contributions for public transport include urban railway investments in large cities, high-speed railway planning and operation, transit-oriented development and ICT application to bus operation. In recent years, KOTI is making an effort for public transport safety and construction of rapid urban railway network in Seoul metropolitan area.”


  1. What are the challenges to such ambitious working plan?
    [Dr. Oh] “Responding to rapid motorization, the stable funding for the development of public transport are one of those difficulties! Along with the political and public persuasion for the strong enforcement of transport demand management measures such as reinforced parking control, and congestion charges. In early 1990s, KOTI had started to publicize social economic costs for road traffic congestion and accidents. The regular announcement of quantified traffic congestion and accident costs greatly helped to make social consensus to support public transport-oriented policies and investments.”


  1. What role does UITP have, in the fulfillment of work plan of KOTI?
    [Dr. Oh] “I believe that UITP is the most comprehensive and global platform for exchanging experiences, knowledge and statistics in relation to public transport. The events and publications are most useful and of high standard in the public transport sector. In particular, UITP greatly contributes to connecting various professionals and related organisations among governments, industries, universities and research institutes. Also, UITP provides a global knowledge-sharing ground for development countries through conferences and publications of international statistics and data.”


  1. What would be the “one phrase” you would advise our young talents to devote their energy to our sector?
    [Dr. Oh] “Public transport is the area which requires the fusion of social sciences and engineering applications. Public transport is well matched with the future direction and values such as climate change, social equity and integration for the sustainable society. The phrase I bear in mind, and would like to share with all, is “Happy Life with Public Transport”!”


Learn more about Korea public transport here, or visit their website http://english.koti.re.kr.