Tozai Line with the newly developed suburbs around Minami Sunamachi, Nishi kasai, Myoden leading all the way up to the residential development of Funabashi area has seen an increasing in commuter traffic over the first decade of 2000. Tozai Line is ranked the worst in Japan and sometimes crowded to 200% of the capacity. The estimates from Tokyo Metro show figures have gone high in the first decade of 2000 by nearly 2 times. I remember the days of 1998 when Myoden Station was not even around. Few people stayed in that area where people had to walk 20 minutes all the way to the nearest station Gyotoku.
You can literally see the Tozai Line thoroughly clogged on weekdays to the point that getting on the train early morning around 08:00 a.m. calls for serious physical effort to squeeze oneself inside the compartment. The doors shut on your face, its humid inside and lets not talk about summers at all. We were not at all impressed when solar power panels went up on the Myoden Station and Tozai Line was championing that as an innovative “sustainable” public transport infrastructure because it was “not sustainable” inside the crowded carriage at all.Tokyo Metro planned a “hard” and “soft” approach. HARD = Convert 7 carriage trains to 10 carriages and SOFT = “Get up early” campaign to earn points (早起きキャンペーン). Tokyo Metro had promised some interesting initiatives in the past couple of years in the wake of the Olympics announcement.
One of the ones which we closely followed was the “decongestion” of the Tokyo Metro Tozai Line. The plan was simple. Presently three lines run in parallel. Toei Shinjuku Line, Tokyo Metro Line and the Rinkai/Yurakucho Line. The proposal was to connect Toyosu, Toyocho and Sumiyoshi, stations on each individual lines and ensure that there is equal distribution of load on all trains. Its a shortcut for Edogawa residents to reach Odaiba too, who go all the way to Shinbashi to catch the Yurikamome Line otherwise. Tokyo Metro also advanced the date to ensure that this happens before the 2020 Olympics. YAY! I said, but probably jumped in excitement a little too soon.The advanced schedule meant faster execution and cost structure post the reworking of the estimates went up by around a billion dollars (1260億円). OUCH…. Tokyo Metro was no way going to foot that high a bill and reverted back to the 2025 timeline to keep the costs lower.
For past two years I have found a new way to travel. I REQUEST my wife to drop me every single day to Shin Kiba Station in our car and also pick me up on the way back essentially skipping the Tozai Line all together. So all you Tozai Line travellers, feel happy that you have one less passenger there. Not that it matters anyways…
Rinkai Line from Shin Kiba, well, its pretty empty by 08:30 a.m. to 08:45 a.m. and my work commute has become a pleasure than a pain, well thanks to my wife. Rinkai Line is expensive, but am COOL with that, seriously.What do we consumers want, “slightly expensive tickets and less crowded train” or “lower ticket price but a highly crowded train”?
For salarymen like me, who risk false accusations of groping on a crowded train, or ladies who actually experience this stupid behavior, I believe, the answer is simple, expensive tickets but less crowded trains. That is not to be though, Tokyo Metro is going ahead with the 2025 plan schedule which might turn out to be too little and too late.