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24-Hour Tokyo: Tokyo Government To Run Subway Line All Night?!! Scoop!


Feb 2, 2010

There is serious talk in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government of running the city managed subway systems Toei Chikatetsu(都営地下鉄) 24 hours a day when Haneda Airport opens to more international flights later this year. You might think of Tokyo as the city that never sleeps but in fact all public transportation stops around 1 am. This forces any one living far from the city to head home before midnight or be stranded until five or six am. However, with flights arriving into Haneda at all hours of the night–a lack of any other transportation other than expensive taxis is sure to go over poorly with much sought after tourists.

The Tokyo Managed Subway System May Soon Run 24/7
The Tokyo Managed Subway System May Soon Run 24/7

At the same time, merchants in Kabukicho, the former red-light district of Tokyo, located in Shinjuku are pushing to allow the area to be designated a special region where all businesses can stay open 24 hours a day. Currently, host and hostess clubs are forced to shutter their windows at one am. They are circumventing the laws by transforming the places into “girl’s bars” or “boy’s clubs” after hours, with stand up counters where customers can order drinks,–which makes them “bars” instead of cabarets, technically. Tokyo has a fair amount of latitude in how they run their own subway system, and while the 都営地下鉄 (toeichikatesu) routes are limited, if they run 24 hours a night there is a good chance they will become the last resort of the night owls and newly arrived passengers at Haneda. Longer hours should translate into more employment for the locals–and the cops as well.

32 thoughts on “24-Hour Tokyo: Tokyo Government To Run Subway Line All Night?!! Scoop!”
      1. I’m not surprised; not all subway systems should be open 24-7/366 anyway (Toronto, my current residence, has its subway operating until 1:50 AM when the last trains leave both Bloor and Yonge stations.) Everybody here in Toronto (and especially commenting at Blog TO) loves to blast the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) for being behind the times (mostly for using tickets and tokens), but at least the TTC has the Blue Night Network (buses and streetcars running after the subway’s shut down) and we shut down at the time mentioned above.

        The people and businesses that want this are just partiers that need to learn to entertain at home, or go out at a reasonable hour, same as here in Toronto.

  1. It was the only thing that kept me honest.go home now or a $60 taxi home in a few hours. Should also keep drunks off the road, one would hope.

  2. If it is going to run the Toei Asakusa Line all night to serve Haneda Airport; might it give thought to through-routing select trains through to Narita Airport on the other end of the line?

  3. This is a terrible idea. There are good reasons why 24 service exists in very few cities, starting with the fact that it’s highly likely to be a money loser and it makes maintenance of the system extremely difficult. I’m sure Tokyo could do a better job than New York (though at what cost?), but it’s worth considering that city as a cautionary example. It’s not only a lack of funding that causes interminable delays, service disruptions, and frequent breakdowns. During one stretch when I was living in New York parts of the system shut down seemingly every single time it rained more than a negligible amount due to flooding and signal outages. I can’t count how many times I experienced delays in excess of an hour during rush hour commutes. Shutting the system down for 5 hours overnight is a small price to pay for a system that runs as well as Tokyo. Don’t break something that works.

  4. What a glorious day that will be. All kinds of good things could come of this: lower bicycle theft rates, big boost in nightlife, new-and-improved hangovers…

  5. Won’t the taxi companies protest? Wait. Correction: Exactly how will they protest and how much influence do they have? They stand to lose big-time, no?

  6. The entire JR rail system in “Tokyo” should be open 24hrs… I hate having to catch the last Chuo Line train back to Tachikawa at 11 something while my friends can hang out past 12 for their last train…

  7. Not many metropolitan transport systems run 24 hours AFAIK.

    The maintenance crews need to get onto the lines. The great majority of passengers don’t actually want to travel in the small hours.

    I’m surprised Haneda will be operating 24 hours because that is pretty unusual too, for a passenger airport in an urban area.

    It’s not like Japan is swarming with foreign tourists. Narita Airport never seems at all crowded. If there is a big upswing they should route the flights there and put on 24 hour Narita Express to central Tokyo.

  8. One idea is that last trains guarantee your workforce gets rested up for another day of work. But aside from the Orwellian implications, it’s not a bad idea to shut them down every night. In addition to saving energy and cutting costs, the only people who rue the lack of transportation at one in the morning are drunk people between the ages of 18 and 28.

  9. Somehow I see the taxi lobby doing its best to smash this one into the ground. As for maintenance, even one train per hour would be a dramatic improvement.

  10. I think the status quo in Tokyo is not surprising, given the importance of the taxi business/lobby. I’m sure they are not happy the possible chances. It has been shown in European cities, that the introduction of public transportation during the night reduces profits of the taxi drivers.

  11. Perhaps the greatest loss will be the decreasing amount of サラリーマン passed out near cold shutters. A true loss for inebriated foreign gawkers everywhere.

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  12. I agree with a lot of the above. They’d have to run either busses or the monorail from Haneda to make this practical, though they do need to find some way to move bodies from the airport and into the city. Even if the number of passengers on in-bound flights in the middle of the night are few, Tokyo will fast become an unpopular destination if hotels do not offer shuttles and the only thing that remains are taxis.

    I mostly agree with Matthew D, though. My collection of passed out salaryman photos would certianly suffer.

  13. I come to this late.

    As great as this sounds, all I can foresee are extended working hours and consequentially, more passed-out, exhausted salarymen. Though I do agree it would be good for Japan’s tourism — for the foreigners, namely — I also feel that Japan’s nightlife would actually take a hit. Many clubs here open near last train and close shortly after the first train starts running and, as was mentioned above, drunken couples would go home instead of wandering the streets aimlessly…

  14. Topping on purpose: It’s now October. The new flights will be landing at Haneda next month. Is there any more recent news about this? Or has the taxicab lobby succeeded at burying the plan?

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