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JR Kyushu station halts machine sales of cheapest tickets over suspected fare cheating

A train line map showing ticket prices from JR Kokura Station is seen in Kitakyushu’s Kokurakita Ward on July 28, 2023. (Mainichi/Munehisa Ishida)

KITAKYUSHU — Some 90% of people who bought the lowest-priced train ticket from machines at one major train station here may have been cheating the fare system, Kyushu Railway Co. (JR Kyushu) announced recently.

The railroad also stated at a July 27 news conference that it had suspended machine sales of the 170-yen (approx. $1.20) tickets at Kokura Station beginning on July 22 and will continue to do so through Aug. 10, before the peak travel season of Japan’s Obon holiday. JR Kyushu President Yoji Furumiya explained that the company had decided to sell the tickets only through “Midori no Madoguchi” ticket counters to prevent misuse. Travelers can also use their rechargeable IC cards to get from station to station.

The tickets are meant for travel between Kokura and the adjacent Nishi-Kokura stations. However, according to Furumiya, while about 300 of the tickets were being sold daily at Kokura Station, only about 30 were being collected at Nishi-Kokura Station. The company suspects that in many cases, people bought the tickets and then traveled to distant, unmanned stations without paying the full fare.

A notice informing travelers of the suspension of sales of 170-yen (approx. $1.20) tickets is seen on a ticket machine at JR Kokura Station, in Kitakyushu’s Kokurakita Ward on July 27, 2023. (Mainichi/Munehisa Ishida)

Of the 571 stations operated by JR Kyushu, 338 — about 60% — are unmanned and have no automatic ticket gates. The company had been aware of the fare cheating problem with these stations, and taken countermeasures including occasionally posting staff there to check tickets.

JR Kyushu is moving forward with removing staff from low-traffic stations to improve business efficiency. In response to the suggestion that the increase in unmanned stations is one cause of the fare cheating, Furumiya said, “Considering the psychology of the passengers, I can’t say that this is absolutely irrelevant, but I’d like them to buy (proper) tickets as a matter of morals.”

(Japanese original by Tomohiro Shimohara, Kyushu Business News Department)


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