• Kyodo

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Bus operator Niigata Kotsu said it resumed charging fares Wednesday for its Bus Rapid Transit service in central Niigata Prefecture after a free-travel hiatus lasting two days. Riders enjoyed some 3,500 free rides on 38 lines due to a system failure.

Niigata Kotsu said it found out about the BRT system failure Sunday for a service in which customers get a discount for bus transfers if they use IC cards.

Due to the glitch, there were cases in which customers did not receive a discount despite making transfers using IC cards. The bus operator, therefore, stopped charging riders for two days to Tuesday.

BRT began operation for the first time Saturday, and had been suffering glitches in its charging system from that time. Customers had been complaining about error messages that appeared when they used commuter passes and when they paid fares.

“We are very sorry for causing tremendous trouble to customers due to the system error,” said an official at Niigata Kotsu.

Some travelers mused that it seemed the new service was simply having teething trouble.

“The troubles may have happened because they didn’t have much time to prepare (for the operation),” said a woman in her 60s in the city of Niigata who regularly rides buses. “I knew this would happen.”

The company had fixed the glitch on Tuesday but delayed charging customers for another day to carry out final checks.

BRT, which can operate on designated lanes to speed up transport, runs from JR Niigata Station to a residential area about 7 km away. It connects to other bus lines that run to outer Niigata.

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