Living in Japan: How to ride the bus

2019-09-22 LIFE
Living in JAPAN JOBS
Living in JAPAN JOBS

この投稿は 日本語 でもお読みいただけます

In Japan, the bus transportation network has developed, and is now a transportation facility used not only for daily life but also when travelling. However, the way you get on and get off the bus differs depending on the region and the bus company. On this occasion, I will describe how to ride the bus.

How to ride the bus

  1. Confirm your destination, route map, and timetable

    Check the destination at the bus stop. There are buses that go to the same destination but by a different route, so as possible check the route map as well. The timetable may be separated into weekdays, Saturday, and Sunday and holidays. Wait in line until the bus arrives.
  2. Check the bus

    Buses that take different routes or have different destinations may stop at the same bus stop, so check the displays at the front or the side of the bus. If it is not clear, check with the driver before boarding.
  3. Boarding
    In case of pre-payment, pay the fare as is. In case of post-payment, take a numbered ticket or touch your IC card.
  4. Alight button

    Once you go pass the bus stop one stop before, and the announcement of the next stop is made, push the align button.
  5. Alighting
    In case of pre-payment, simply alight from the bus. In case of post-payment, pay the fare and alight from the bus.

Boarding and alighting, and the timing for paying the fare

In terms of whether you board from the front or rear door, whether you alight from the front or rear door, and whether you pay the fare when boarding or when alighting, there are broadly speaking three separate patterns.

  Board Payment Alight
A Back Post-payment Front
B Front Pre-payment Back
C Front Post-payment Front

Type A is most common throughout the country, but in urban areas, B tends to be seen more often.

How do you distinguish them?

You can distinguish this by checking the homepage of the bus company. Also, you will see the display for “entrance” and “exit” etc. on the doors. If there are other customers getting on and off, you can just copy their behavior. If you are not sure, ask your driver.

Fare system

There are mainly two types of fare system.

Uniform payment

With this system, for every time you ride, you pay the same fare, regardless of the distance that you travel. The fare differs depending on the bus company or routes. You can check the fare from the display on the bus or fare box.  In the case of a route that straddles different uniform fare areas, you may need to announce your destination to your driver when boarding the bus.

Area-based system/distance-based system

Your fare will differ depending on the area or distance from the place you boarded to the place you alighted. If you are paying in cash, when boarding, be sure to take a numbered ticket and not lose it. If you are paying with an IC card, touch the IC card on the IC panel marked “IC”. If you lose your numbered ticket or forget to touch your IC card, you will be judged to have boarded from the first stop and charged accordingly.

When alighting from the bus, check and pay the corresponding fare for the number shown on your ticket, based on the fare board at the front of the bus.

How to pay the fare

In the case of a route bus, it is common to use cash or a transportation system IC card. (Depending on the bus company, you may pay in cash only.)If it is necessary for you to declare your destination, when you are paying a child fare, when you are paying for two or more fares simultaneously, when a discounted fare is applied, or when buying a one-day pass ticket, speak to the driver before your payment.

Cash payment

In the case of a uniform fare, payment will be made automatically when you place your money in the fare box, and any change due will be dispensed. However in the case of area-based or distance-based fares, no change will be given. Before paying the fare, you may need to use the change machine next to the fare box. Change may only be granted for coins or 1,000yen bills in some cases. If you take too much time here, you may make other users wait, leading you to panic.

Make sure you have enough small change for the bus before boarding the bus.

Transportation system IC card

There are some buses where you can pay with a transportation system IC card. See the website of the bus company for the cards that you can use or check the display on the bus or fare box. You can also charge your card at this time.

Pre-payment one-touch system

In the case of pre-payment, touch your IC card when boarding on the area marked “IC” on the fare box.

Post-payment two-touch system

In the case of post-payment, you touch your IC card on any of the panel sections marked “IC” both when boarding and alighting the bus. When boarding from the front door, use the fare box and when boarding from the rear door use the panel near the numbered ticked dispensing machine. Make sure that you do not forget to touch twice, both when boarding and alighting from the bus.


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