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Japan travel warning: Buses can and will leave you behind at highway rests stops if you’re late

15 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

New Year’s is the busiest time for domestic travel in Japan, as it’s tradition to head back home and spend time with your family during the season. And while the bullet trains are Japan’s fastest and most famous mode of domestic transportation, there are also a lot of people who will be taking long-haul highway buses.

Not only are buses often cheaper than trains, they service many of the more rural parts of the country that lack high-speed rail stops. This being Japan, the buses are usually clean, too, and the drivers and passengers polite. You can make a reservation ahead of time and get an assigned seat, and oftentimes those seats recline and have footrests, making for a pretty comfy ride, and for long trips there’s usually a stop or two at Japan’s famed highway rest areas, where you can pick up locally made snacks and drinks and use the remarkably clean bathrooms.

However, there is one potential problem with taking long-haul buses, and it's one that bus operator JR Bus Tohoku has posted a special reminder about on their website, which reads: “To customers who will be using our buses during the New Year’s period. Buses will depart at their scheduled departure times. If you are not on the bus when it is scheduled to depart, we will not attempt to contact you or wait for you.”

In other words, if you take a little too long browsing through the souvenir shops, stretching your legs, or doing anything else at the rest stop that prevents you from getting back on the bus at its scheduled departure time, the bus might just leave you behind, stranding you part-way to your destination.

“A large number of people use our buses during the New Year’s season,” JR Bus Tohoku explains. “If someone is late and disrupts the timetable, it will cause problems for the other passengers, so we have issued this cautionary statement.”

The company added that it isn’t so strict as to speed off a single second after the scheduled departure time, but the important takeaway from the warning is that there’s no guaranteed grace period on being late getting back to the bus.

Thankfully, long-haul highway buses usually have a large clock at the front of the interior, and drivers verbally announce or put up a sign (sometimes both) saying when the bus will depart. That makes it easy to coordinate your watch/phone with the bus clock and know how long you have until you need to get back. That said, even if you’re leaving your jacket or some other belongings at your seat, any time you step off the bus at a rest stop, you should always bring your phone and wallet with you, just in case you get left behind and have to figure out and pay for a new ride.

Source: TV Asahi via Yahoo! Japan News via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Tokyo’s new buses with onboard capsule toy gacha machines stocked with very appropriate prizes

-- Japan’s ultra-classy overnight bus gives you your own sleeping pod【Photos】

-- Japanese toilets now measure fatigue levels at highway rest stops

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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Buses will depart at their scheduled departure times. If you are not on the bus when it is scheduled to depart, we will not attempt to contact you or wait for you.”

I’ve always wondered why trains and buses etc have never waited for me?

Now I know with certainty

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The article is on paragraphs 6 and 7.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I was on a bus to a ski resort in Hokkaido and we made an unscheduled 15 minute stop for someone who needed to take a dump urgently.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Best advice, don't travel by coach. The worst mode of transport. Take the train instead.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Best advice, don't travel by coach. The worst mode of transport. Take the train instead.

Disagree completely - Well maybe, I enjoy the bus for the shorter 2 hour rides. Beautiful scenery, wifi, electric outlets to plug in my laptop, makes for a relaxing two hours of guilt free do nothingness travel option

11 ( +12 / -1 )

The Italians and the Spanish should avoid taking those buses. LOL

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Just take the keys with you.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Just take the keys with you.

Or learn how to tell time and buy a watch instead.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I've taken these highway express buses a lot and there always seems to be one yanki guy or girl who seems to still be wandering around the store in their Galfy sweatpants right when we're supposed to leave.

PS. Do these Sora News articles ever start the actual article without five or six paragraphs of inane fluff?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Highway buses are great, especially for inaka residents.

The companies often have big cheap carparks near the highway entrance, so you can park up there without having to drive into the main city that is the principal inaka-end destination of the bus route. The shinkansen and express trains are faster and more relaxing to ride, but usually cost much more and are less integrated with cars, the principal form of transport in inaka.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Buses can and SHOULD leave you behind at highway rests stops if you’re late

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Some of the overnight expressway buses will not let you off even at the rest stops. They draw the curtains, and invite you to use the WC on board, and there's hot water for tea or coffee.

One advantage of a night bus is saving one night's hotel bill.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Like the cruise lines.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

There’s always that one idiot that thinks 49 other people want to wait for his stupid az.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It's about time,

In japan some people are soooo poorly mannered they will make the bus with it's travelers wait an extra 5 to 10 minutes because they wish to do shop for Omiyage at the stop, it happened twice and I just could not believe it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

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