Kyoto city’s decision on dealing with crowded buses


Due mainly to a rapidly increasing number of foreign tourists, municipal bus services in the ancient capital city of Kyoto remain seriously crowded, drawing citizens’ complaint over the inconvenience. The main reason for the congestion is the cheapness of a 500-yen one-day pass for the bus services which tourists often use. So, the Kyoto city government has decided to raise its price to 600 yen from next March, based on the recommendations made by a panel of experts. Will the markup really help ease the jam-up?

The one-day pass was first put on sale in 1995. It was priced at 700 yen at that time. The deregulation in subsequent years encouraged private companies to begin bus services,prompting the city government to cut the price to 500 yen in 2000. The number of the pass sold annually grew sharply from about one million in 2000 to 3.64 million in 2010 and 6.14 million in 2015. The reason for the upsurge was the arrival of more foreign tourists who were sensitive to cheapness.

However, the increased sales were not necessarily welcome. The cheaper pass has brought about some adverse effects. Today passengers have to wait in long lines for the next bus to come. Groups of tourists bring their large luggage into the bus, leaving little space for passengers to move around. These have added to the complaint among inconvenienced citizens. The city government has decided to raise the price of the pass to placate their dissatisfaction.

Now, will the hike not result in reducing the number of passengers? The municipal authority estimates that the daily number of bus users will drop by 9,300 from 55,000 at present to some 45,700 after next March. So, it has combined the markup with a cut of the price for its similar “one-day sightseeing bus-subway pass” from 1,200 yen to 900 yen. This is aimed to ease the bus congestion by diverting more passengers to subway services. The city office reckons that the combined annual sales of the two passes will increase from 230 million yen now to 420 million yen.

With the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to begin three years later, the number of foreign tourists may keep growing year after year. Let us hope that the higher price of the one-day pass will help alleviate the bus jam-up, thereby enhancing Kyoto’s appeal to visitors.(Written by: Kazuto Seiryu)







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