1.5 billionth rides monorail to Haneda

Kyodo News

Tokyo Monorail Co. celebrated its 1.5 billionth passenger Wednesday, some 42 years after the rail service opened between Tokyo and Haneda airport in 1964, the year Tokyo hosted the Olympics.

The milestone came when Masatoshi Kawahara, a graduate student from Sapporo, entered the ticket gate at Hamamatsucho Station, where the Haneda-bound service begins.

He was feted on the station concourse with a decorative banner that dropped from the ceiling and given a certificate confirming him as the 1.5 billionth passenger and two coupons for a two-night, three-day tour package worth about 200,000 yen.

“I was taken by a surprise,” Kawahara said with a smile. “I will give these tickets to my parents.”

The two passengers who passed through the ticket gate before and after Kawahara also got prices: airline tickets from Japan Airlines Corp. and All Nippon Airways Co.

Tokyo Monorail is competing with Keihin Electric Express Railway Co., which started service to Haneda airport in 1998.

The Tokyo Monorail averaged 127,000 passengers a day in the business year that ended last March, down 30 percent from its peak. It will start a nonstop express service between Hamamatsucho and Haneda airport this March.