Low-cost Tokyo bus firm takes advantage of cut-price airlines
Sunday 05 December 2010
With the arrival of budget airlines at Tokyo's Narita International Airport, a new cut-price bus service is being launched to whisk cost-conscious travellers into the heart of the city.
Just weeks after a new railway service was introduced to link Narita with the Japanese capital more rapidly than those of its rivals, the new bus service is looking to appeal to a different clientele.
The "Y1,000 Super Shuttle" began its regular runs between the airport and the Ueno and Asakusa districts of Tokyo on December 1, targeting backpackers and budget travellers who are expected to take advantage of the new deals on flights.
At just Y1,000 (€8.98) for the 90-minute trip, the service is just one-third of the price charged by its competitors, operator Cab-Station said.
"In order to achieve low rates, travellers are required to pre-book via the Internet or over the phone by credit card, and there are no facilities to sell tickets at the airport or the terminus," the company said.
The company's buses os to travel between the aiport and Tokyo eight times a day in new buses with seating for between 45 and 60 passengers. The reduced prices mean that travellers are required to load their own luggage into the bus and unload it at the destination, but that is likely to be a small price to pay for many tourists on a tight budget.
To further appeal to the anticipated surge in the number of visitors from Asia, phone support will be available in Chinese and Korean, as well as English.
"In the first year, we expect to have 100,000 customers and believe this new service will be popular with both foreigners whp are visiting Japan and those who are living here," the company said.
In August, the Narita Sky Access train service opened linking the airport with Nippori, in eastern Tokyo, in just 36 minutes. That is around 15 minutes faster than other express train services, although the cost of a one-way ticket is Y2,400 (€21.46), some Y480 (€4.29) more expensive than the Skyliner Airport Express.
According to a survey by Narita Airport Authority, only 39 pecent of people using the facility travelled there by train, and that figure might be further influenced by the new cut-price bus service.
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