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Rapid bus service connecting Olympic harborside areas to central Tokyo starts running

An articulated bus that began operating as part of the "Tokyo BRT" bus rapid transit system connecting the harborside area and central Tokyo is seen in the capital's Minato Ward on Oct. 1, 2020. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

TOKYO -- The metropolitan government on Oct. 1 began operating its "Tokyo BRT" bus rapid transit system connecting harborside areas where the Olympic and Paralympic athletes' village and venues are located, and central Tokyo.

    The system was introduced to improve traffic access to the harborside area, which is undergoing development for the Tokyo Games. It was originally scheduled to start operating in May, but was postponed due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    Bus stops were set up in the Toranomon, Shimbashi, Kachidoki and Harumi areas. An approximately 5-kilometer route connecting Toranomon in Minato Ward and Harumi in Chuo Ward takes about 30 minutes. The service uses fuel-cell vehicles that run on hydrogen to form an articulated bus that consists of two cars. There are six bus services per hour during rush hours on weekdays, and four services per hour outside of that time frame during the day and on weekends. It costs 220 yen for a ride and 110 yen for elementary school children and younger.

    The service will initially run on a single route, which will gradually increase to a total of four routes including the Toyosu wholesale fish market in Koto Ward and Ariake district after the Tokyo Games.

    Many passengers were seen using the BRT for commuting to work and other reasons on the first day of operations. A 30-year-old office worker, who rode the bus from her apartment in the Harumi area to her workplace in Shimbashi, said, "The bus stops are closer with BRT and also the bus runs very smoothly. I would like to continue using it."

    (Japanese original by Hitomi Saikawa, City News Department)

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