NAGOYA – The Higashiyama Line, operated by the Nagoya Municipal Government, began running female-only cars during morning rush hour Monday in a bid to curb incidents of groping, becoming Japan’s first subway line to do so, the city’s transportation bureau said.
One car, marked with pink stickers on the windows, near the center of the six-carriage train is designated as female-only until 9 a.m., the railway said.
The line has recorded the highest number of groping incidents among the four subway lines in Nagoya. Of the 37 cases reported to police by the city’s transportation authority in fiscal 2001, 24 occurred on the Higashiyama Line, with the majority taking place in the morning hours, the authority said.
“I feel safe even if it is crowded (in the female-only compartment),” said a 30-year-old office worker who complained she has been groped frequently on the trains.
She said she hopes the subway will also operate the special compartments on late-night trains and increase the number of designated carriages.
The Higashiyama Line will test the system for a few months and then conduct a survey before deciding whether to introduce full-scale operations.
The new arrangement was also welcomed by some male passengers.
“Instead of being misunderstood as a groper,” one said, “I (now) feel refreshed, and this is nice.”
Many female passengers meanwhile chose to ride in other cars that were closer to the station exits where they disembark.
The female-only car was relatively empty compared with other cars until peak hours, and a number of male passengers mistakenly boarded the female-only car and were made to leave.
Some male passengers were seen pressing station personnel to explain why they were not allowed to board the cars.
The number of passengers on the Higashiyama Line between Nagoya and Fushimi stations reaches about 160 percent of seating capacity during rush hour.
Female-only cars can also be found on West Japan Railway Co. and Tokyo’s Keio Electric Railway Co. trains.