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Using the trains just got easier!

Subject: Using the trains just got easier!
by Fenyx66 on 2007/3/14 16:01:19

ALL CHANGES TO THE SUICA AND PASMO SYSTEMS TAKE PLACE ON MARCH 18, 2007

If you’ve visited Japan recently, you may have noticed a change in the ticket gates and signs up for the Pasmo Card. Pasmo is a pink and grey card that is used much like the Suica card for JR lines, the Oyster card in London and the Octopus card in Hong Kong. If you don’t know what those are, they are credit card sized train cards with a built in chip that keeps track of how much money you have left on the card and how much you are using when you scan into the trains, busses and subways. You can also use this card at several stores in and near train stations.

Now, for visitors to Japan, they don’t have to buy train tickets every time they want to use the trains or try to figure out where they are on the train maps and where they want to go. They can just buy a card and put some money on it and go anywhere they want and if they run out of money, they can just charge it up again. It’s quick and easy. A new option allows you to automatically add money from your credit card when the balance on your Pasmo card runs below a certain number, though this option is probably better for residents and long term visitors to Japan.

This card is not free, it may cost around 500 to 1000 yen to purchase, and you do have to give it some personal details. But if you lose your card, they can issue a new one for 500 yen and you can keep the money you had on your old one (maybe).

Where can I use this new card?
From everything I’ve read, you can use the Pasmo card on just about every train system in the Kanto region (JR East, Tokyo Metro and the Tobu lines included) and many busses too. I also believe that the Suica cards and the Pasmo card system will be compatible so as long as you have one, you can go anywhere in the system. Also Suica cards can be charged on Pasmo machines and vice versa.

Discounts!
While I haven’t read about any discounts on trains, I have read about a point system for the busses. The more you use the cards on the busses, the more points you can collect for fare discounts which are automatically stored and used on your card.

Benefits!
No more waiting in lines to buy tickets, not so much change in your pockets, just scan your card and go. Automatic charging from a credit card option. Changing between JR and other lines will be much easier, you can use the special transfer gates instead of going out of one system, buying another ticket and then walking around to the other systems gates.

Cons
If you don’t use all the money on your card, then you can’t get it back, you’ll just have to hold it for your next trip.

So, the Pasmo/Suica cards are great, but if you still like to buy your tickets one at a time, you can still do that.

How do I get a Pasmo or Suica card?
That’s a good question. I’m guessing you can still buy them from designated vending machines and probably from the ticket counter. Most machines now have English buttons, unfortunately there are no other languages offered, but if you are reading this post, you should be ok!

This is a press release detailing changes to the Suica card system.
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/press/20061203/index.html
Another press release…
http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/press/20051201/index.html
Great Article about the Pasmo card!
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20070306a3.html ( you may have to sign up to see this article, published March 6, 2007)

Please note, that if you have Suica cards, there will be some changes to that too, such as, the minimum fare won’t be deducted when you scan in, but the entire fare will be deducted when you scan out.

Any questions or concerns?
Those of you that know about this, did I cover everything?
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