Kyoto struggles to keep buses running on time amid surge in overseas visitors
Japan Times -- Feb 24
As more foreign travelers visit the historic Japanese capital of Kyoto crowded and delayed city buses have become a headache for local citizens, prompting traffic authorities to take steps to ensure smoother passenger services and encourage the use of subway lines.

For over 40 years, passengers in Kyoto have generally boarded buses through the rear door and paid the fare when getting off from the front door.

But with the city now attracting around 55 million tourists a year, Kyoto City Bus services, whose routes include popular tourist attractions, have become constantly crowded with tourists often carrying large baggage.

As some travelers also often have difficulty in paying the fare promptly with coins at bus stops, it has become difficult for the city buses to remain punctual.

According to the Nihon Bus Association, the bus industry body, the boarding system for route buses varies by region, with passengers paying fares when they get on through the front door in flat-fare zones in Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya.

In the face of complaints from local citizens about delayed bus services, the Kyoto Municipal Government’s traffic bureau conducted a practical experiment last October to switch doors for boarding and alighting, and making passengers pay the fare when they get on.

Since the test showed the change in entry and exit doors contributed to reducing the average stoppage time by 11.5 seconds, the bus operator plans to change its boarding system for the route connecting Kyoto Station and Ginkakuji Temple this fall and eventually introduce the new system on 61 routes where a flat fare system of ¥230 is applied.

News source: Japan Times
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