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2020 Olympics could paralyse Tokyo's subway, study warns

By Toru Yamanaka

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Great! Two years out and now they report that the transportation system is not going to be able to handle the crush of people. Not like this information is anything new. I think most people were expecting this, but it just goes to show once more how Tokyo getting the Olympics was such a sham. They lied and lied about how everything was going to be so great, cheap and organized.

3 ( +14 / -11 )

On the bright side, maybe fewer people than expected will show up in one of the world’s costliest, non-AirBnB, cities; far below expectations. Also, the subway system can barely hold the people it has currently.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

pretty sure this info was not part of the bid package...and the bloated budget. Is all this really worth a meaningless two week even that will be forgotten the day after its done?

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Agree with all above.

MarkX's comment 100% on the money. Tokyo getting the Olympics WAS a sham.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

This isn't a could it is a will, nothing will be done because it would cost too much for something to be done. Everyone will complain and the government will be "we didn't think this would happen"

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Another "study" done that warns of a crisis that "could" happen in Tokyo.

That must be study #89 so far this year. Why even get out of bed these days?

Seriously, does anyone actually expect so many tourists to come to one of the most inaccessible and expensive countries in the world in such numbers that they'll sink it?

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

One more reason I'm glad not to live in Tokyo !

"We need this mentality that waiting and walking are part of the joy of watching the Games"

Uuh... I'm not an expert in the Olympics, but am I the only thinking this is BS ?

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Tokyo is the 6th biggest city in the world and the 1st in population. Currently, visitors from every part of the world are concentrated there. One of the most advanced and active city in the world to find much problems and troubles at 2020 Olympic Games. No doubt about that. Tokyo should increase more the number of trains at every station time table. It must continue after the Olympics to resolve commuters feel relaxed in space at that rush hours squashed like sardines...

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I'd like to know where they are getting the 1.3 million figure from. Seems to me that even if all of the venues are full, all at the same time, there will be no more than 250,000 in attendance. (I'm not counting the venues that are more than 8km from the Olympic park, or the football venues, which are not near the village). I doubt that there will be a time when that is the case.

Perhaps they are thinking of the marathon, but presumably those spectators will be scattered over 42km and not crammed into one spot.

I was living in Sydney during the 2000 games and they managed the transport perfectly well despite having a vastly less developed infrastructure. Tokyo will be fine.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Could paralyse? That's bit of a given, don't you think? Adding possibly 2 million people to the morning rush is definitely gonna freeze up the already overcrowded transport system.

ADK99 - I was living in Sydney during the 2000 games and they managed the transport perfectly well despite having a vastly less developed infrastructure.

Less developed infrastructure? Are you serious? The reason it worked so well is because of a modern infrastructure. Tokyo is not a planned city. It has just grown and grown in every direction using every inch of space.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Whats the word that describes this research's results best...

Oh yeah...


E-ve-ry-bo-dy knew this was going to be the case. So I suggest Tokyo introduces more buses since it's going to be difficult to add more trains or build more traintracks/stations.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You'll be fine, Tokyo. We had similar clickbait in the run-up to the London Olympics.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

They better finish upgrading Harajuku station before 2020 or else that station is going to be worse than insane then.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I live in Tokyo and already plan to take holidays during that period.

I’m not going to commute everyday in an already packed public transportation.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I still think that Japan is going to be surprised by how few people from overseas turn up for the Olympics.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Olympic events will not be taking place at the time of the morning rush. Besides, the figure of 1.3 million spectators is clearly nonsense. Where are these 1.3 million extra people going to stay? Stations near the main venues will be busier but I can't see there being any big problems, other than people dropping dead with heatstroke if the daft idea of closing stations and making people walk is implemented.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Nah it will be fine. The more important thing is to make sure every last tourist who enters the country also leaves without overstaying. I get the feeling the Olympics will be a field day for illegals, so might be good to use it for a wider crackdown at the same time

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Could... already is. Got on the Namboku line at around 9:50AM, just from Yotsuya to Azabujuban, it was packed to the point I had to back my way in to get on the car. About 70% of the crowd got off at Roppongi, which has become loaded with offices over the last few years. Things have changed but too many of the subway companies have not addressed the issue. More trains need to be added.... especially on certain subway lines.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I'd like to know where they are getting the 1.3 million figure from. Seems to me that even if all of the venues are full, all at the same time, there will be no more than 250,000 in attendance. 

ADK99 - A possible explanation for the 1.3 million may be that people are predicted to visit Tokyo for a couple of weeks, do some sightseeing and take in a few Olympic events - most of the time most tourists won't be at venues.

> "We need this mentality that waiting and walking are part of the joy of watching the Games"

Bintaro - I had a good laugh at that too. Seriously, Tokyo need to get their act together on the transport because the combination of daytime heat and overcrowding could cause fatalities. I certainly won't be going anywhere near any of the venues.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Being a regular visitor to Japan, 2020, is definitely the year to avoid Japan. Not sure the benefits of Olympic will bring to Japan (or the Japanese).

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Not sure the benefits of Olympic will bring to Japan (or the Japanese).

Speaking for myself and my colleagues, one of the benefits is that my employer is finally taking some initiative to implement the real flextime and even flexible work location, with the expected Olympic congestion as the driver. By summer 2020 almost all employees should be able to work from home or another location that keeps them off Tokyo's public transportation system.

Without the government's urging (and last July's work-from-home test day) management would still be sitting on their thumbs.

So while I agree that this post is just the usual fear-mongering click-bait, like what London experienced, I hope to see more of it. Wouldn't it be nice if more companies offered flexible or staggered start times, remote work, and less congestion on a year-round basis?!?

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Waiting and walking? Joyful? Like Golden Week Traffic Jams? Joyful?


You have to be raised in Japan to find crowds and waiting Joyful. No other humans on the planet find that joyful.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

You knew this already. Less Talk More Action please.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think the model is based on a faulty premise. Why would commuters be on the train at the same time as spectators or athletes? It's speculative planning nothing more. Everyone avoids this.

Half the people will be lost in Shinjuku and other stations before they even hit the trains. A natural valve

Also events at the same time as rush hour would (hopefully) be avoided.

Plug that into the model.

Trains are tiny, as in too short for many, I hope they'll take private buses. Much easier, but that's not mentioned in the model either

If the data were freely available, the OpenData world community could even help with suggestions

4 ( +4 / -0 )

why not just cancel the olympics.... isnt that the better solution?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Everything will be fine. The Games will be great because Tokyo and the Japanese people rock.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Besides crowded subways and bid-rigging, there's another thing Japan is also famous for (well, of course, many things): taking too long to decide on something. But not when it will profit the government or construction companies, or other vested interests. You can see this with the, "Oh... wow... it's going to be hot during the Olympics if held in July/August. Hmmm... who could have known?" and "Oh... our already overcrowded train system my be MORE crowded if we get the thousands of people we want? How could we have known?"

Seems they wanted the Games first, then would think later.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

As the trains are a good alternative to driving in Tokyo, bicycles would be a good alternative to using the train for many - if the city would just be willing to do what other cities like NYC, Paris and London have been doing - actively encouraging bike use through dedicated biking infrastructure (bike lanes especially). Companies should be encouraging staff to commute by bike, whenever possible, too - instead of actually prohibiting it

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh really? Did they spend any money on this study? Here's some free advice without any studies. A lot of tourists are gonna be angry and a lot of local people gonna be reprimanded or possibly fired over the train issues during the olympics.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Full marks to the comments disparaging the 1.3 million number which does not appear to be based on anything.

I've not been there at a peak time, but I would imagine that 20 minutes in the Tokyo heat is less than the average wait to get on any non-minor ride at Tokyo Disneyland or Disney Sea. It's something like an hour if you're lucky at the Michelin-starred Raamen place. I'm sure people will manage.

For anyone playing Japan Today comments bingo, "AirBnb" gets its shoehorn mention in comment #2.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tokyo will be fine. A lot of tourists and visitors will stay away in 2020. Also, people travelling to the games will travel after rush hour.

Visitors from abroad will probably only stay in Tokyo for a few days before heading elsewhere. The bulk of visitors to the games will be Japanese.

All in all, the crowds week be absorbed into Tokyo's throng, just as they always are.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I get the feeling the Olympics will be a field day for illegals, so might be good to use it for a wider crackdown at the same time

Stop and search on the way to the Games? Passport checks? Hotel raids?

Can't see that adding to the bonhomie and atmosphere of the event...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Taguchi added the most effective solution would be for commuters to stay home during peak Olympic travel hours, with workers taking a day off, working remotely or commuting at different hours.

Am I cynical for thinking "nahh that will never happen"?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was pressed in broadside such that I had a hard time breathing, dropped my briefcase and proceeded to have a mild panic attack. I tell my wife I cannot take this crap much longer.

I can empathise with that. Can you ask your place of work if you can do flexi-time? That's what I did, in the past, when the scrum got too much. Come in an hour before or after the rush hour and do your set hours, leaving earlier or later in the day.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No, the 2020 Olympics will paralyze TOKYO, not just the subway. Tokyo is already jammed with tourists, but this is nothing like 2020 will be.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Give all the Tokyoites a two week paid vacation

Two weeks? Did you say two weeks?

What about all their co-workers who will be left behind to do all the work? No Japanese would ever be so selfish as to leave their desk for a whole 2 weeks. This is why Japanese workers are the most productive in the whole world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Quelle surprise. Says absolutely no one.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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