Expensive Hokuso Line in Chiba Pref. voluntarily reduces fares

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Hokuso Line train cars are seen at Shiroi Station.

Hokuso-Railway Co. in Chiba Prefecture has lowered fares on its Hokuso Line between Keisei-Takasago and Imba-Nihon-Idai stations. This is the line’s first voluntary fare reduction, excluding those subsidized by local governments. Since its opening in 1979 between Komuro and Kita-Hatsutomi stations as a commuter service in Chiba New Town, the line has been criticized by residents of the area for having the “highest fares in Japan.”

As of Oct. 1, the regular fare was reduced by 11.6%, and the starting fare reduced from ¥210 to ¥190. Commuter passes were substantially reduced by an average of 64.7%.

The Hokuso Line opened as a commuter rail line for Chiba New Town, but ridership did not grow due to delays in the development of the town, scaling back of plans, and the time it took to extend the line to Keisei-Takasago Station and directly connect it to central Tokyo in 1991. Due in part to the line’s construction debt, the accumulated deficit ballooned to ¥44.7 billion in the fiscal year ending in March 2000.

The expensive fares were a result of the company’s top priority in eliminating the deficit. However, the fare was unpopular with passengers, with a commute from Chiba Newtown Chuo Station to Nihombashi Station costing ¥1,150 and a round trip price of more than ¥2,000.