Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Anatomy of a Tokyo Commute

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These days, I find myself amidst the largest commuting population in the world...

Greater Tokyo covers an area of 16,400 sq.km and is populated by over 42 million people.  Within this National Capital Region of Japan, runs what is often called the `most extensive, complex and efficient` mass-rapid transport system anywhere. 282 stations servicing 14 different railway lines handle about 8 million passengers on an average working day!

In comparison, Mumbai suburban rail carries about 7 million passengers everyday, using a fleet of overland trains (EMUs).  The entire network of Indian Railways, with 108805 kms of tracks and 16,021 train runs daily, carries only 14.84 million passengers every day (2007). Now that should help us put the Tokyo suburban rail network in perspective!

As one among the eight-million, my itinerary is relatively straightforward. Compared to a lot of people who multiple lines to reach their destination, I just use two: one of the newest - the Tsukuba-Akihabara Express (TX) Line and the oldest - Ginza Line, a part of which happens to be the `first subway line in the Orient` (Estd. 1927).

Every morning, I set off from my home in Tsukuba Science City and after traveling by bus, two trains, and a couple of stretches of brisk walks, I reach my workplace at Kasumigaseki in central Tokyo. A distance of about 70 km (one way), covered in about two hours` time, spending a total of Yen 2500 (~Rs. 1200).

A break-up of the daily itinerary:
  • 07:14 AM - Bus No. C10 from Ichinoya Shukusha (Dormitories) to Tsukuba Centre [Yen 260 - subsidized by a student pass]
  • 07:32 AM - Tsukuba Centre; Walk down to the adjacent TX station 
  • 07:40 AM - TX Semi-Rapid to Asakusa [Yen 1100]
  • 08:40 AM - Come out of Asakusa TX Station (187 steps up to street-level; option to use escalators/lifts). 15 min. walk to the Ginza Line (2 crossings) Tawaramachi Station (41 steps below street level; no escalators/lifts)
  • 08:55 AM - Ginza Line subway train to Toranomon (~ 8km), [Yen 190]; 
  • 09:15 AM - Toranomon Station; 10 min to walk to the 8th floor office of ADBI at the 33-floor Kasumigaseki Building
In the evening (usually after 7:20PM), I take the same lines but with a slight change in the Ginza Line stations. I get off a little earlier, at Suehirocho Station, to walk to Akihabara TX station - just to try and get a seat on the TX leaving for Tsukuba.

At the end of the day, the very thought of dangling or standing for more than an hour in a crowded train, is just too daunting!

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TX ticketing machine (also recharges smartcards)

TX train entrance to platform: almost seamless
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LINKS - 
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