Kyoto revamping crowded bus services amid rise in foreign tourists


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Huh? What about paying with your smartphone? Thought this already was in use in Japan

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Invest in double-decker busses, please.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Last time I went, on a Saturday, the public transport system was close to being useless. The buses were sardine cans, and all the stops had long lineups.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Paying by smartphone works for locals, but not for all travelers. Something like an Octopus card?

Moving payment to the front is an excellent step. I can't think of anywhere else in the world that I've visited where getting on a bus from the rear is done for a non-monthly traveler.

Plus all the guide book publishers will need to update the Kyoto section ASAP.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Oh dear, all those pesky foreigners spending their hard earned money and making the Japanese rich.

How about making dedicated free buses for foreigners?

Keep them away from the locals that are spending only a small amount of what the average foreigner spends.......

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

@ the Fu

How about the Pasmo card?

Probably a millennial with the known limited abilities to find something on Google :)
0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ JeffLee

Ride a bike

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

More bike share stations. More protected bike lanes. No problem.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

We pay enough in taxes. How about cutting pork and give us free bus rides?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Excuse me? "Foreigner travelers"??

Shouldn't that be "Guests from overseas, without whom this country has no hope in hell of economic recovery"?

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Last time I was in Kyoto it wasn’t those pesky spend-a-lot foreigners fumbling with coins at the front of the bus who were holding up traffic but a LOT of cars (with Kyoto pref. plates) on the road. I mean, it was much faster to walk than ride the bus.

However, a friend who lives in Kyoto agreed with this article: public transportation is really congested, so he rides a bike when he can or takes lessor used bus lines.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There is a mistake I believe in the number of people visiting. 55 million to Kyoto and 28.7 to Japan in 2017?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@ Hugo

At first I assumed that the 55 million was all tourists, foreign and domestic, but then this article is all about foreign tourists, so yeah. It could be a little clearer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't like Kyoto. Too many temples there and they charge visitors. People in other parts of Japan do not visit temples except when some of your family die. I visited Kyoto before and dropped in a restaurant near a temple. I found Buddhist priests among customers. I do not eat together with priests in religious attires. Too many priests in the city. I do not want to see priests except at funerals.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Kyoto's bus system has sucked for more than 20 years. This is long overdue, and still not enough, and it's not because of any sudden influx of tourists.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

It's said that Kyoto folks are a wee bit stingy but I won't hear a word of it. That said, the transport system could do with an upgrade.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We love visiting Kyoto which is just a short cheap train ride from Kobe central. But the buses are hell even at the best of times. Short trips we use taxi and subway and walk when possible.

Ban all cars from central streets during the daytime. Double decker buses with conductors collecting fares and options of machine paying and smart phones. Trams on the main routes.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Rent a bike! Saves you a lot of trouble. I've quit riding the bus in Kyoto a LONG time ago. 

sometimes had to wait for the 3rd bus before I could ride one. 

Bike is Only 500 yen and you can go quite the distance at your own pace.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan should increase its tourist infra many fold, as love for Japan , is increasing day by day in people and the figure of tourists visiting Japan is going to increase many times more in coming years.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Living in Kyoto, we avoid certain bus routes. Our local bus takes us to Kiyiomizudera and Gion, but beyond Kiyiomizudera it is a nightmare, especially with young children.

Its not the traffic, its the buses themselves not big enough to cope with the crowds. They are all single decker buses and the drivers seem happy to cram as many people on as possible. The system is ridiculous with one small exit by the driver and hordes getting on the middle of the bus.

Nonstop destination buses are the answer. Nonstop from Kyoto station to Heian Shrine, nonstop to Gion Corner etc. There would be no queues en route and it would free tourist numbers from local bus routes.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

when i visited Kyoto, i had to enter the back of the bus. when i reached my stop, i couldn't exit the bus for two stops because of overcrowding. then in winter, the condensation on the windows means you have no way of knowing where you are.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

 i couldn't exit the bus for two stops because of overcrowding. then in winter, the condensation on the windows means you have no way of knowing where you are.

Let the driver know you are getting off and he will wait. Exit from the back door and go in the front one to pay your fare. There are announcements and an indicator board next to the driver at the front.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The buses really have become chaotic in the last 5-10 years. They are way overcrowded, and young tourists are sitting uploading their shots to Instagram whilst elderly locals are standing. Also choosing to pay with coins really and truly is a major pain in the butt, if you are towards the back of the bus it takes forever to get off, please get a Suica or a Pasmo.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

thank you @zichi. i don't live in kyoto, so i didn't know this way. i think taxis for 2 or more people is best, walking or subway. the problem with bikes is there is nowhere to park without them being taken away.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ban people carrying large suitcase and backpacks. Those people should store them in lockers at JR Kyoto or take a taxi. Its very anti social.


thank you @zichi. i don't live in kyoto, so i didn't know this way.

It applies to any location in Japan, not just Kyoto.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I always drive to Kyoto if I have to go. Yes, there is some traffic heading into the shopping districts but other places such as temples minus Kiyomizudera aren't that hard to get to and park.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Ban people carrying large suitcase and backpacks.

Couldn't agree more. My 6 year old niece had her face scraped and scratched by a zipper on a backpack just last winter.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If the buses are so crowded why don't they increase their number? If cash payments take too long, make everyone use a smart card, no exceptions.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Let the driver know you are getting off and he will wait. Exit from the back door and go in the front one to pay your fare. 

a) I have never seen this in Japan. Even if It is true what a nonsense system - people getting back on at the front to pay their fare against the flow of people trying to get off..

b) A bus journey filled with everyone shouting from the back of the bus at every stop that they are going to get off..

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Ban cheapos that cannot afford to share a 950 yen ride for 4 passengers to get to their illegal Airbnb, eat combini food in the streets and dress and look sh*te.

Tourism is good but the mass version of it is a plague.

Japan must not turn into some tourist destination like Thailand.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

In 2016 Japan had 20 million tourists. The majority of tourists in Kyoto are other Japanese, more than 30 million of them.

Probably two out of three Kyoto tourists are in fact Japanese.

Those tourists spend ¥1 trillion every year.

a) I have never seen this in Japan. Even if It is true what a nonsense system - people getting back on at the front to pay their fare against the flow of people trying to get off..

I have not only seen it frequently in Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto I also started doing the same in the rush hours. If other passengers are leaving the bus just wait a moment. Ever had a driver complain.

b) A bus journey filled with everyone shouting from the back of the bus at every stop that they are going to get off..

Again this frequently happens in the rush hours. Sometimes the driver even asks if others want to get off.

And I will add on occasion I told the driver I didn't have any change or notes smaller than ¥5,000 and will pay on my next journey. That is always accepted too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I didn't enjoy my experience riding the bus in Kyoto. Being taller than the average rider, I had a nice view of the ceiling. They need observation deck style windows. It did seem there was a lot of car traffic blocking the way, but I agree that entering through the front seems to work in most cities, so why not Kyoto. I am returning with my sister this time and wonder if renting a bicycle might not be better. I usually do that in Kamakura, but my wife insists that Kyoto is much bigger and hence would be more difficult. Has anyone else rented a bicycle in Kyoto? is it doable? BTW, if you go to Kamakura, I recommend the electric assist bikes they have. Great for the hills.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Fair point Zichi.

Those tourists spend ¥1 trillion every year.

With this amount of revenue and taxpot income, its time to hand this issue to the tourist attractions and government. I can't believe that they are making a huge income yet have no responsibilities towards the tourist crush.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Double decker buses. New trams lines. Tourist shuttle buses from JR Kyoto nation out to the popular tourist sights only stopping at those tourist sights on the way. Daytime ban on cars from busy centers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Man... The wife and I spent a weekend in Kyoto last month. It's been 6 or 7 years since the old sightseeing adventure days. Kyoto was not the same, dare I even say, not even enjoyable anymore. Okay it wasn't that bad, and if it's your first time there it will still amaze, but for me it was a totally different city and experience. You are just shoved through the serine and majestic gardens and temples. Selfie sticks hitting you in the face, being rushed to move on so everyone has their chance to take their picture. It 100% defeats the purpose of reason these places exists, to pray, to relax, to contemplate life, the beauty of what is in front of you. I got a job offer to a great uni, people told me I was crazy for taking another job, but thinking about sitting on one of those twice a day every day, inaka for life for me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Those last years I have been feeling really sorry for people living in Kyoto and other popular locations. Pity for respectful foreign guests trying to learn about Japan too. Politics say it is good to have still more and more tourists in Japan but I am not so sure when looking at pet bottles and rubbish floating in Testugaku no michi (unthinkable few years ago !) or seeing local people on crowded buses and trains where there are sometimes more luggage (so huge!) than people ! I feel like apologizing to Japanese tourists unable to enjoy their (so short) vacation because of crowds of rude and uncosiderate foreign visitors. Nowadays, when visiting, I try to stay outside of the city and only come to Kyoto to see unkown and isolated temples with only few Japanese tourists. We can quietly enjoy the place and the silence or have a nice, polite conversation. It's sadly becaming a big problem around the world: too many travelling people ruining local people tranquility, rising prices and devastating natural and historical sites...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's the same in any place that is popular with tourists. Kyoto needs more and bigger buses, but this won't help if the road congestion doesn't improve. Kyoto needs a park and ride system, or a congestion charge. I agree about banning backpacks unless you take them off. The things are an anti-social menace and should not be worn on public transport or in crowded areas. Same with selfie sticks, many galleries and museums in the UK have banned them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The city could do with trams, they are much more convenient to use than subways.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Travel light or stay home.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Tourists, domestic and foreign arrive at JR Kyoto. Disembark and head across the road to a skyscraper building for a day of VR of every Kyoto tourist site. At the end head back to the station without even boarding a single bus.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The bigger the suitcases, the cheaper the tourists. You're going to ruin it for big spenders and they contribute more in the end...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Travel by train. This is the best way to visit Kyoto. No delay and not so many people.

But if the weather is nice and you are fit, rent a bicycle.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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