Tokyo plans new effort to ease commuter hell on rush-hour trains

Riding packed commuter trains pressed against strangers may be one of the worst parts of living in Tokyo, made worse by groping and long delays from people who commit suicide by jumping onto the tracks.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike has declared that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will take on the congestion problem starting July 11 with a campaign that encourages employers to provide more flexible hours to ease the morning commuter rush.

“To resolve the issue of Tokyo’s packed trains, it’s important that firms, railways and riders cooperate,” Koike says in a statement on the official Jisa (Time Difference) Biz website.

Even before she was elected governor last year, easing overcrowding was one of Koike’s policy priorities. In a suggestion that surprised the public, she once proposed running double-decker trains on regular commuter lines that would have doors on both levels and building two-story platforms to accommodate them. The idea, however, drew a lukewarm response.

In the Jisa Biz campaign through July 25, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will encourage firms to let employees to arrive for work before 8 a.m. or after 9 a.m. and urge railways to offer incentives to support the effort.



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