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Okinawa’s Yui Rail starts regular runs Sunday

Date Posted: 2003-08-08

Okinawa’s newest symbol, a 12.9-kilometer monorail link connecting Naha Airport to Shuri starts its regular runs Sunday. With the inauguration of the service, Okinawa will no longer have the dubious distinction of being the only prefecture in Japan without a railroad.

The monorail makes15 stops, including the stations at the start and end of the line. The two-carriage cars will run at 6.5-minute intervals during the peak hour between 8 and 9 a.m., while the time between the trains is from 7.5 to 15 minutes at other hours. The Yui Rail trains operate from 6 a.m. through the last departure from each end of the line at 11:30 p.m.

Tickets begin at ¥200 for the shortest distance to ¥290 to travel the length of the whole line. Commuter passes and discounts for students, disabled persons and large groups are available. Each two-carriage train has space for 165 passengers.

The name “Yui Rail” and its logo were a result of a public contest. In Okinawan dialect “yui” means an Okinawan tradition of helping each other. The logo depicts smiling eyes with “m” forming the eyebrows and the last upwards-soaring arrow symbolizes bright future. The logo is the result of labors of Reiko Ukumura and Isamu Shimabukuro.

Promoters of the monorail link tout it as the traffic system for the 21st century, saying it will save commuters from traffic jams and deliver them where they want to go in time at less cost. They also point out that the system is very safe, as the trains don’t come in contact with other traffic. Extra caution is paid to ensure that all materials and construction are resistant to Okinawa’s salty air, and are designed to resist frequent typhoons.

Monorail planners say that they have paid extra attention to ensure that there are good connections from each of the monorail stations to buses and taxis. They also expect each monorail station to become a hub of economic activity in its area.

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