(1) Problems in Urban Transport and Expectations to the Public Transport
An increased demand for transport for commuting to work and schools has ensued, by the concentration of population and an outward spread of cities in major metropolitan centers and this has produced congested trains and longer commuting times.
In the road transport sector, on the other hand, the increase in the number of private cars, trucks, etc. and illegally parked cars on the road has resulted in a lower level of road operation. It is extremely difficult for buses to operate according to schedule, which has resulted in a great loss of faith in bus transport. This has also led to environmental problems such as increased release of nitrous oxides and carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere and an increase in the number of road accidents.
It is necessary to take a decentralized approach to national development in order to deal successfully with these destructive forces. However, there is high expectation to the public transport sector in large cities, as a means of resolving these problems. This is a means of handling large transport volume and providing a high level and diverse range of services.
(2) Basic Thinking Concerning the Urban Transport System
(A) Transport Between the City Center and Suburban Areas
In large Japanese cities the normal residential population is distributed at a high density over a very large area.
The city is structured basically with a separation of workplace and residence.
This results in a large flow of people traveling from residences in the suburbs to the business heart of the city (to work and school). Railways handle the majority of these travellers, a role which needs to be maintained in the future.
(B) Transport in the City Center
There is a high demand for transport in the city center where the population is concentrated. On principal routes, in the future this high level of demand will continue to be satisfied through the rail network with the subway as core. Bus routes will be continually revised in coordination with rail, so it complements the rail network to provide a more detailed transport system.
(3) Basic Approach Towards Establishing a Urban Transport System
(A) Improvement of Urban Railways
(a) Dealing with Congestion and Lengthening of Commuting Time to Work and School
Transport capacity in cities has been raised through means such as the construction of new railways. This new construction has made starts in improving congestion.
However, during the commuting period, in trains and railway stations congestion is as bad as ever, and the time taken to get to work and school is growing. (Fig.25) To cope with this, continuous transport capacity needs to be strengthened, and train speeds need to be raised to reduce traveling time.
A number of countermeasures can be implemented for a relatively small investment to effectively utilize existing rail facilities. These include raising the speed of trains, coordinating transfer facilities, increasing the frequency of trains and increasing the number of train carriages. In addition to this, as a drastic measure which should involve the construction of quadruple-tracks and new lines.
Countermeasures could be taken, on the other hand, in relation to demand. Commuting is most congested over a one hour period and it is necessary to distribute this, evening it out between the hour prior to and following the peak period.
It is necessary to use the reduction in working hours in recent years and the introduction of flex-time working to stagger and distribute work starting times for people working in the city center. (Fig.26)
The introduction of a new fare pricing system needs to be considered so different fare prices apply during peak and off-peak periods. This should contribute to drawing demand away from peak time periods.
(b) Coordination of Railways and Housing Development
Building houses in large cities has become difficult in recent years due to increases in the cost of land. People have used commuting by Shinkansen as a measure to counteract this, and the number of Shinkansen trains running during the commuting period has increased. (Fig.27)
As a further, drastic countermeasure, it is necessary to use the "Special Measures Law for Integrated Promotion Development of Housing Losts and Railways in Major Urban Regions", and coordinate rail development with housing development so city dwellers are be able to live in good quality housing in a location where commuting is still possible at a reasonable cost.
(B) Improving the Quality of Urban Transport Services
(a) Understanding and Responding to User Needs
The suppliers of public transport services need to be constantly monitoring demand and transport service in order to accurately grasp user needs and to respond to them promptly. In transport sectors at present there is demand for regular and fast services on which there is minimal waiting time and easy transfer between modes of transport.
It is necessary to establish concrete measures to improve transport services and to pursue development in line with these measures.
(b) Easy Use Of Transport Systems and Facilitating Transfer
In order to reduce difficulties in using transport facilities, in particular the difficulties involved in transferring from other modes of transport, it is necessary to construct facilities such as escalators (Fig.28). It is also important to construct facilities that facilitate transfers within stations, coordinate connections between express trains, to introduce tickets which can be used between a number of different transport companies, and to introduce discounted fares for transfers.
(c) Increasing Comfort
Comfort also needs to be increased. This can be done by raising the quality of transport services and improving amenities, particularly in areas in which transport facilities are concentrated, and through raising the comfort of carriages by improving heating and cooling functions.
It is important, in addition to this, to have easy access to information about details of the transport service, and transfers etc.
Transport systems need to be improved so they can be used easily even by people who have difficulty in traveling such as the aged and the physically handicapped. Facilities need to be developed in cities, of course, and nationwide, in order to accommodate these people. It is necessary to construct elevators and utilize bases with level floors and wide doorways. (Fig.29)
From December 1, 1991 discounted fares will be introduced for the mentally disabled. These discounts will apply on rail, buses, taxis and sea transport, on the same basis as discounts for the physically disabled.