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Re: The Complete Guide to Tokyo’s Trains & Subways
Posted by Henry R32 #3730 on Thu Dec 6 19:30:00 2018, in response to The Complete Guide to Tokyo’s Trains & Subways, posted by italianstallion on Thu Dec 6 13:20:07 2018.Tokyo's commuter trains have a few things which make it a cut above the rest, even in other parts of Japan:
-JR East color codes their equipment by line, making identifying your train a lot easier.
-Musical tones while the train is in the station. You can tell your stop by sound if you're half asleep and it's too crowded to see out the window. Not to mention it being a clear indication of how much time you have before the doors will close [the original purpose].
-Guaranteed express-local transfer arrangements allow for everyone to benefit from express trains even if they use a local stop. The result is people spending the least amount of time on the train as necessary, which is clutch on lines where seats are jokingly referred to as urban legends.
-Service patterns will adjust middays and/or weekends to skip certain stops which either have low off-peak ridership or another line that serves them adequately enough. This is the exact opposite of what US commuter RRs do, whereby weekend trains will overserve intermediate stations, and making all midday trains stop at stations with no connecting buses that have long since filled their park and rides.
-The integrated commuter rail-subway arrangement allows for many one seat rides. For example, this past trip we went from our hotel along the Keikyu line to Skytree [terminus of the (A)sakusa line] without having to transfer or fight for a seat a second time.
-Distance based fares that are cheaper per mile than the peak DC metro fares, while turning an operating profit. Blows MTA/NJT fares out of the water.
Then there's the creature comforts:
-full restaurants, stores and vending machines within fare control
-coin lockers at every station to drop off bags, coats, etc.
-The smart card can be used to pay for food/vending and secure a coin locker (put stuff in locker, close door, scan pass... come back later, scan pass again, locker unlocks after deducting the appropriate rate).
-Regardless of what card you bought you can use it on all the rail lines in the region.
Of course, there's flaws:
-The integrated subway-commuter rail makes it hard to figure out simple things like "inbound" vs "outbound" while in the subway. The destination sign will show places sometimes a whole city away from Tokyo [the (F)ukutoshin line for example through routes to the Tokyo Toyoko commuter Line which through routes to the Yokohama subway Minato Mirai Line].
-The subway integration means you will almost always get a train labelled for a railroad you've never heard of / weren't planning on travelling on. If you're on the (F)ukutoshin line you will see Tokyu, Yokohama Subway, and Tokyo Metro trains. The (A)sakusa line you'll see Keikyu, Keisei, and Toei subway cars. The Han(Z)omon line has Tokyu and Tobu trains in addition to Tokyo Metro. Great for railfanning but confusing to newbies.
-The overcrowding and corresponding need for women-only cars, which is a confusing concept. They are only restricted for a few hours a day in certain sections, but those hours are not intuitive. For example one is AM rush hour and after 10:30 PM only. Easiest thing to do is make sure there's a large number of dudes in the car if you intend to board one labelled "women only". I say that because children and elderly are exempt, need dudes who are not at the ends of the age spectrum.