Five-day subway pass for Osaka kids

Kyodo

Around 120,000 elementary school pupils in the city of Osaka will be given five-day passes for the Osaka municipal subway system to commemorate its 80th year of service Monday.

The free passes will be issued via schools in early July and will be valid for any five days from July 20 to Jan. 13, the Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau said Friday. They can also be used to ride city buses or New Tram, an elevated train.

“Only a very limited number of elementary school children use the subway. I would like them to try riding it and get feedback from them to improve our services,” bureau chief Masanobu Fujimoto told his managers Friday.

Elementary school students, who are entitled to a 50 percent discount on subway fares, make up only 0.8 percent of the subway passengers each year.

The bureau has been taking steps to increase efficiency and enhance services, but Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto is hoping to bring the municipal subway under private ownership in April 2015.

The bureau is planning to cover the roughly ¥100 million to ¥200 million revenue loss expected from the free-ride plan via cost-cutting measures.