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East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, will start considering introducing a new fare structure, including a system in which fares vary by the time of day, its president, Yuji Fukasawa, said Tuesday.

The study comes in response to a drop in the number of passengers and changes in lifestyles following the novel coronavirus crisis, he told a news conference.

“We won’t return to the situation before the epidemic,” Fukasawa said, adding that “we’ll review the costs, train schedules and fares” from the perspective of long-term business management.

A flexible fare structure that can help “shift the peak of congestion” will be a possible option, he said. Currently, a distance-based fare structure is used. “We also have to think about commuter passes” since the number of commuters is falling amid the spread of teleworking as a countermeasure against the virus crisis, Fukasawa said.

JR East will overhaul train schedules at a time when more and more passengers are using earlier trains as an increasing number of companies are adopting staggered commuting due to the epidemic. It also plans to review the operations of the first and last trains of the day, for which users are decreasing.

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