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Using the trains just got easier!
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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?

Posted on: 2007/3/14 16:01
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Derrick Adam
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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Derrick,

A HUGE thank you for this info!
I am bringing along a group with me in August and I am exactly in the middle of searching for a more simple ticketing system for the guys, instead of playing around with coins.

Eva

Posted on: 2007/3/14 21:51
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Eva Barbara Bodogan
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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Eva,
You're welcome! It's definitely great for groups.
I'll post some more after I get a chance to use the system. As far as busses go, not all the companies will have this at first, but over the next year or so, all the proper equipment should be installed on all the bus lines.


I found this website, which states everything about the system very clearly and has pictures of the machines and ticket gates. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_002.html

I made a mistake in my earlier post. Apparently, you can get your money back from the card. When you buy the Suica/Pasmo cards, you have to pay 2000 yen. 500 yen is the deposit for the card and 1500 yen goes onto the card and is usable for you. When you leave Japan, you can return the card and get your deposit back as well as get any money off your card, but this cost 210 yen.

One card per person is needed.

ALSO at the bottom of the website, there is a discount offer for tourists coming to Japan. It's for a Suica card and an express train from Narita to Tokyo. The package is 3500 yen, which is quite a saving. This is only for people who don't have a Japanese Passport.

Posted on: 2007/3/15 11:18
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Plus and Minus yen
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An article in Asahi talks about the points you can earn on your Pasmo credit card tie-in - Easy Riders

The down side of the card is, if you use it to change from a Tokyo Metro train to JR to Metro again, you may end up paying more for the convenience of using the card. I discovered this while reading the Suica pamphlet.

You win some, you lose some.

Posted on: 2007/3/20 13:32
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Re: Plus and Minus yen
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Quote:

Tessen wrote:
An article in Asahi talks about the points you can earn on your Pasmo credit card tie-in - Easy Riders

The down side of the card is, if you use it to change from a Tokyo Metro train to JR to Metro again, you may end up paying more for the convenience of using the card. I discovered this while reading the Suica pamphlet.

You win some, you lose some.


I did some research and apparently there are times when you would lose money. If a shorter route requires you to change from the JR line to another line then back to the JR line without going through any ticket gates, then the machine never knows that you left the JR system and will charge you as if you used their trains. TO GET AROUND THIS you can simply scan out of the JR system and back in after you've used the other train, that way you are charged accordingly for each part of the trip. This can also be said by going from Metro to JR and back to Metro. Although routes like this aren't common.

I was talking to some visitors at training yesterday and they said they used the busses, so keep in mind that right now, not all the bus company have installed the scanners in their busses, but by the end of this year, just about every train and bus line in Tokyo will be Suica/Pasmo compatible.

To test it out, I put my Suica card into the Pasmo machine at the station near my house and I was able to charge it with no problems. So all my doubts about Suica and Pasmo compatibility vanished.

My friend just bought a phone with Felica (a built in IC card) and it took a while to set it up (the program was all in Japanese) but now he can charge it at convenience stores and uses his phones on the trains. That's really cool!

Posted on: 2007/3/22 11:03
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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There has been some more information about the IC Cards.

Starting next March (2008), the IC cards for these three companies will become interchangeable. They are JR East, JR Central and JR West. I hope this encourages a lot of people to travel outside of the "training" area. http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/406852

Also, I've been using my Suica card everywhere (Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, etc...) since the Pasmo/Suica merge, it's amazingly convenient. I can't recommend it enough.

Has anyone else been taking advantage of the new system?

Posted on: 2007/5/18 14:04
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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I'm luvin' the ability to use my Suica on the subway. No more of this using the Suica to enter the transit system and then winding up at a destination station that doesn't support Suica and having to go through this whole rigamarole with the dude at the ticket gate, digging out spare change, etc.

Touch-and-go , the way it should be!

S

Posted on: 2007/5/18 18:26
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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Question from a "Train Illiterate" --

Quote:
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!


I've seen the vending machines that say "Pasmo" over them, but I can't tell if they sell the card or just recharge it. Where do you get the card? Understand that my Japanese is "practically non-existent" ...

I'll be in Japan 'till August so I'm guessing that the card will be very useful for me.

Posted on: 2007/5/23 12:45
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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Mr. Price,

That is a good question. About the language, every pasmo machine I've seen, and every JR machine I've seen has English buttons, so that's not a problem. I use the Suica card issued by JR East (Green and Gray IC card) so I've never had to buy a Pasmo Card (Pink and Gray), but I did find a website that had this to say...

"Getting a Pasmo card (or becoming a Pasmo, as I like to call it) couldn’t be easier. It’s as simple as tracking down a station that accepts Pasmo cards (almost any station other than JR), and walking up to the automated ticket machines. Once there, switch the machine to English mode, or if your adventurous leave it in Japanese (go ahead, you’ll get no help from me), and hit the Pasmo button. You can then choose between a regular card with no identification, or you can personalize your card for use as a monthly train pass, giving up your name and cell phone number to give you back the card if it’s ever lost. And get it back you might want, as the next step is to decide how much you want to put on it. Your initial deposit will be down by ¥500 to cover a deposit on the card (you get it back if you ever want out of the Pasmo lifestyle), but the machines will accept denominations up to ¥10000, or $100. The card is then spit out of the machine, with or without a receipt, and you are on your way.

To use it in the trains, just wave it on top of the IC Card sensor when you enter and leave. Your balance is helpfully displayed any time you do this, letting you know when it’s time to top up. Alternatively, you can also use the card at select stores instead of cash, thus making my wallet lighter, in oh so many ways."


http://www.jasohill.com/blog/?p=395 (that's the link to the blog I found this info)


Both Pasmo and Suica are interchangeable, so I will explain how to purchase a Suica card. So if Pasmo cards are sold out, you can easily purchase and use a Suica card.

First go to any JR East Station (that's any JR station in the Kanto Region) and find the bank of JR ticket machines. Unlike the Pasmo, you can't purchase it at just any machine, but over each machine is a description of what each one can do. Find the one that says Suica (and something along the lines of purchasing one NOTE it's usually a different color than the regular machines (maybe blue, yellow or pink, I don't remember off the top of my head). Walk up to that machine and hit the English button and follow the instructions. It's really simple and quick and when you finish you get a nice shiny card that's slightly thicker than a credit card.

Note: charging both cards can be done on any Pasmo machine AND almost any Suica machine (it will say Charge or チャージ) it doesn't matter which card you have.

Ok, Good Luck!

Posted on: 2007/5/23 14:40
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Re: Using the trains just got easier!
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Toranoko, I'll look for you at Ayase!

仇無 mentions the monthly pass. If you stay for one month, and you use the pass daily on the same route at least four times a week, then it's economical. Usually, the monthly fee gives you a discount, working out to the cost of 16 return trips for an all-you-can-ride point-to-point pass.

If you stay less than a month, and don't ride the same line daily, then a chargeable Pasmo or Suica is best. There is a 500 yen card fee, but it comes back to you if you return your card to the ticket office.

The cards also work on many bus systems, too. See the Pasmo English info here

Posted on: 2007/5/23 15:26
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