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Naha Monorail, bus companies squabble over fares

Date Posted: 2003-05-10

Okinawa Monorail will begin service on August 10. The monorail, to be known as Yuirail, which will run from Naha Airport to Shuri, has been conducting test runs since early April.

The train's popularity is already being questioned, even before opening day. Company managers reportedly have decided to lower ticket prices to be sure the public will embrace the new service. The Company has already reduced its estimate of daily passengers traveling the monorail from 35,000 down to 30,000. Some 5,000 are expected to be tourists.

The basic fare was 260, with 30 increases every 3 kilometers. Based on surveys among potential commuters, the company management has now decided to lower the basic fee to 200, and then 30 for every four kilometers. The fare for the entire run from Naha Airport to Shuri would cost 290.

Another problem has risen, further complicating the new monorail service. Okinawa's troubled bus companies have balked at offering discount transfer tickets to commuters using monorail, something considered essential for smooth operations.

The bus companies say that the Yuirail should bear the brunt of the cost of discounting the transfer tickets, while monorail officials see it the other way around. Bus companies claim they have been in the business of mass transit in Okinawa much longer, and they are the ones who stand to lose passengers to the new monorail, so it should bear the brunt of the cost of discounting the transfer tickets.

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