The Tokyo Metropolitan Government will terminate Friday’s late-night bus service between Shibuya and Roppongi on Oct. 31 due to slumping passenger numbers.
“We can’t afford to keep losing money because the service is run on Tokyo taxpayers’ money,” Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe said at Tuesday’s regular news conference. “That’s why we decided to end the service.”
The trial service was launched on Dec. 20 on a trial basis to expand late-night travel options in the popular but crowded entertainment districts. It was set to last about a year.
The buses depart from Shibuya at 1:10 a.m. Saturday and arrive at Roppongi in 20 minutes. They shuttle back and forth seven times over the course of the evening, with the final bus leaving Roppongi at 5:10 a.m.
The fare is ¥420, twice the daytime fare for buses run by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
The idea for the bus was proposed back in April of last year by then-Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose. Inose announced his resignation over a money scandal on Dec. 19 that year, just before the launch.
The project was well-received in its first month, attracting an average of 290 passengers a day, but that began slumping in January, according to Takehisa Manago, a division chief at the metro government’s transportation bureau.
“The average number of passengers from January to September was 75 . . . and we concluded that demand won’t grow if we continue the service,” Manago told The Japan Times on Friday.
Manago said Tokyo lost ¥2.7 million at the end of August in the late-night bus service and predicts the deficit will climb to ¥3.4 million if it lasts until December, when it is arguably the most needed.
The drop in passengers might be attributed to the lack of links to other means of transport in the late hours, Manago said.
Once people get to Shibuya, he said, the only other means of travel available at that time is by taxi.
Gov. Masuzoe emphasized at the news conference that cooperation from other transport operators is essential to improving the convenience of the capital’s traffic system ahead of 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympics and Paralympics.
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