• Jiji

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The number of passengers on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo plummeted Saturday and Sunday to 30 percent of the total for the same weekend last year, East Japan Railway Co. said.

The plunge came after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and other governors in the region called on people to avoid nonessential travel to help contain the coronavirus. The weekend before, passenger traffic on the normally busy belt line was 65 percent of the year-before level.

Bullet trains and other express services operated by JR East also saw passenger numbers plunge Saturday and Sunday. Railway officials said ridership was down to 30 percent on the Tohoku, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train lines and to 35 percent on the Akita Shinkansen. The Hokuriku Shinkansen is operated jointly with West Japan Railway Co.

Among major stations on the Yamanote Line, Tokyo and Ueno saw the volume of passengers, excluding those who use commuter passes, fall Saturday to 18 percent of the level a year before. Traffic fell to 24 percent at Shinjuku Station and to 26 percent at Shibuya Station.

“I don’t remember such sharp declines in passenger traffic except in the aftermath of natural disasters, such as the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami,” a JR East official said.

The company has no plans to reduce train services for now, the official said.

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