Tips 12 Mar 2024

How to Ride a City Bus Like Locals in Tokyo

As a developed country, Japan—especially in urban and metropolitan areas like Tokyo—certainly has very advanced and diverse public transportation. This can be seen from the large number of railway companies that operate in the country's capital, as the train is Tokyo's primary mode of transportation. Even buses, which are a secondary mode of transportation in Tokyo, are also managed by 23 companies.

Buses in Tokyo

Generally, buses are not the main choice of transportation among tourists in a city as big as Tokyo. It is because there are numerous subways and trains which are the better choice for getting around the capital of the Land of the Rising Sun. Yet, buses are the most ideal mode of transportation for tourists who want to go to all the popular tourist destinations in one area or nearby locations.

The metropolis or "central" area of Tokyo City is served by a government-owned bus company called the Toei Bus.

Toei Bus

Toei Bus (都営バス, Toei Basu) is a bus service company operated by the Bus Services Division, Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation (東京都交通局, Tōkyō-to Kōtsū-kyoku). As stated on the Wikipedia page, the company operates bus routes in 23 Special Wards of Tokyo Metropolis, covering numbers or areas well-known for tourists such as Akasaka, Akihabara, Aoyama, Asakusa, Ginza, Harajuku, Ikebukuro, Kasumigaseki, Roppongi, Shibuya, Shinagawa, Shinjuku, Ueno, and others.

As of February 2022, Toei Bus operated more than 1,400 buses serving 200 routes covering a total of 1,103 kilometers.

Riding a city bus in Tokyo

The first thing you need to know when you want to ride a bus like locals in Tokyo is the bus fares. You can pay the fare of the trip using cash or an IC card (prepaid card), such as Suica and PASMO. You can get these two prepaid cards at Tokyo subway stations or airport train stations at Narita or Haneda Airports.

If you plan to pay with cash, you should have the exact fare ready in case the payment machine on the bus doesn't give you a change. However, if you use a Suica or PASMO prepaid card, you don't need to worry as the fare will be automatically deducted when you tap your card on the bus.

The majority of city buses in Tokyo charge a flat fare of JPY 210 for adults and JPY 110 for children. But if you use a Suica or PASMO prepaid card, the fare is cheaper, at JPY 206 for adults and JPY 103 for children.

The second important thing you need to know is how to enter the bus. Buses in Tokyo are designed to have passengers get on and get off on different doors. To get on a bus in Tokyo Metropolis, such as a Toei Bus, you go through the front door which is close to the driver’s seat.

After entering the bus, you should first put your coins or insert a banknote into the payment machine before looking for a seat. If you use a prepaid card, you can tap in your card on the card reader machine before looking for a seat. To get off the bus, you need to go through the middle door of the bus, so that you don't collide with passengers who will get on the bus.

Another important thing you must consider before taking a city bus in Tokyo is the one-day pass ticket offered by bus service providers, including Toei Bus. This one-day bus ticket will make the travel more economical if you plan to use city buses in Tokyo for the whole day. You can use this ticket for unlimited rides in a day using buses from the same company. You can buy a Toei one-day bus ticket, for example, at buses, stations, and also at tourism central points in Japan.

Don’t forget to download the bus schedules, notifications of departures or changes, and real-time bus position updates on the official website of the bus service provider company, and buy Travel Insurance to Japan so that your activities in exploring the Tokyo Metropolis by bus run smoothly and are always safe.

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