Traffic back to Tokyo notably Low amid Pandemic

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Traffic moves smoothly Sunday at the Niiza toll gate on the Kan-Etsu Expressway in Niiza City, Saitama Prefecture.

Highways and trains heading to Tokyo were notably less crowded than usual on Jan. 3, a day when many people who spent time in their parents’ hometowns or in vacation spots would normally be on their way home.

Many people are believed to have refrained from traveling this holiday season due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Last year, the Kan-Etsu Expressway in Saitama Prefecture was congested for about 30 kilometers with the cars of people including those who had gone skiing or visited family. According to the Japan Road Traffic Information Center, the traffic jam on Sunday only stretched about 20 kilometers.

Railway trains were also relatively uncrowded. According to JR companies, as of Sunday evening, there were no Tokaido Shinkansen trains heading to Tokyo with their unreserved cars fully occupied. Fewer than 50% of the unreserved seats were occupied on many trains on the Tohoku, Yamagata, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen lines as well.