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A bullet train

The transport network in Greater Tokyo includes public and private rail and highway networks; airports for international, domestic, and general aviation; buses; motorcycle delivery services, walking, bicycling, and commercial shipping. While the nexus is in the central part of Tokyo, every part of the Greater Tokyo Area has rail or road transport services. The sea and air transport is available from limited number of ports for general public.

Public transport within Greater Tokyo is dominated by the one of the worlds most extensive urban rail networks [1] of clean and efficient surface trains and subways run by a variety of operators, with feeder buses and monorails playing a secondary role. Walking and bicycling are much more common than in many cities around the globe. Private automobiles and motorcycles play a secondary role in urban transport.



Two airports handle the vast majority of commercial flights in the region. Tokyo International Airport (Haneda) in Ōta, Tokyo, is the primary field for domestic flights. Narita International Airport in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, is the major gateway for international travelers. Haneda's only international flights are to Hongqiao (Shanghai) and Gimpo (Seoul). Both are in expansion phase as they are overloaded, and may still be overloaded when expansion is finished.

Chofu Airport in the city of Chōfu in western Tokyo handles commuter flights to the Izu Islands, which are administratively part of Tokyo. Tokyo Heliport in Kōtō serves public-safety and news traffic. In the Izu Islands, Ōshima Airport on Ōshima, Hachijōjima Airport on Hachijō, and Miyakejima Airport on Miyake provide air service.

In addition, the Greater Tokyo area hosts military bases with airfields:

Also, two new airports are being developed outside of Greater Tokyo. They will be nearer than Haneda and Narita to some parts of the Greater Tokyo Area.


Rail is the primary mode of transport in Tokyo. Tokyo has one of the most extensive urban railway networks in the world, including surface lines.[1] There are 30 operators, 102 passenger train lines serving Tokyo, and 19 more serving Greater Tokyo but not Tokyo proper, for a total of 121 serving the metropolitan area, not including some 12 cable cars. Despite this vastness, the network is still being expanded. Each of the region's rail companies makes their own maps, with key transfer points highlighted. Trains in Japan are often extremely crowded at peak travel times, with people being pushed into trains by "pushers" or oshiya. Most lines in Tokyo are privately owned and operated, with the exception of Toei subway lines (run directly by the Tokyo Metropolitan government). Rail and subway lines are highly integrated and dense; commuter trains from the suburbs continue directly into the subway network on many lines, often emerging on the other side of the city to serve another company's surface commuter line. Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in the world by passenger throughput.[2] It is estimated some 20 million people use rail as their primary means of transport (not trips) in the metropolitan area daily. In comparison, Germany has 10 million daily train riders, the highest usage of any country in Europe.[3]

Passengers carried in Greater Tokyo stations daily (2007):

  1. Shinjuku Station 3.64 million (Registered with Guinness World Records)[4]
  2. Ikebukuro Station 2.71 million[5]
  3. Shibuya Station 2.18 million[6]
  4. Yokohama Station 2.09 million[7]
  5. Tokyo Station 1.12 million[8]
  6. Shinagawa Station 0.91 million[9]
  7. Takadanobaba Station 0.90 million [10]
  8. Shimbashi Station 0.85 million[11]


East Japan Railway Company, or JR East, is the largest passenger railway company in the world. It operates throughout the Greater Tokyo area (as well as the rest of northeastern Honshū).

In addition to operating some long-haul Shinkansen ("bullet train" lines, except Tōkaidō Shinkansen operated by JR Central), JR East operates Tokyo's largest railway network, including the Yamanote Line that encircles the center of Tokyo, and commuter lines radiating from the city to its suburbs. These include the Keihin-Tōhoku Line between Saitama and Yokohama, the Chūō Line to western Tokyo, and the Sōbu Line to Chiba. The Keiyō serves nearby parts of Chiba. The Yokohama, Tōkaidō, and Yokosuka Lines serve the southwestern parts of the area.

Many additional lines form a network outside the center of the city. Among these are the Hachikō, Itsukaichi, Jōban, Jōetsu, Kawagoe, Musashino, Ōme, Negishi, Nambu, Sagami, Takasaki, and Tsurumi Lines. In total, JR alone operates 23 lines within the Greater Tokyo area.

JR East is also the majority stockholder in the Tokyo Monorail, one of the world's most commercially successful monorail lines.

Other railway operators

Map of operators in Greater Tokyo Area

Regional railways carry commuters into the center of Tokyo. These include several private railway networks. Keikyu directly operates five lines, Keio six, Keisei seven, Odakyu three, Seibu 13, Tobu 12, Tokyu eight, and the last five one each for a total of 55 non-JR lines serving Tokyo. These same operators indirectly operate (through subsidiaries, outsourcing etc) another 24 commuter lines outside of Tokyo, but in the metropolitan area, as well as a few tourism oriented aerial lifts and funiculars.

Some private and public carriers operate within the boundaries of Tokyo.


The Ginza Line, Asia's oldest subway line, first opened in 1927

Two organizations operate the Tokyo subway network. One has the name "Tokyo Metro" and the other is a part of the government of Tokyo. Tokyo Metro operates nine lines, Toei operates four for a total of 15 lines.

Railways in Greater Tokyo

The Sagami Railway (Sōtetsu) operates three lines, Yokohama Municipal Subway operates two lines, while all the rest operate one line each, for a total of 19 lines.


Below is the average daily riderships of each major operator, as of 2005 fiscal year. The figures are those of directly operated lines, without subsidiary or related company lines. The actual total figure is higher than shown here as smaller operators are not listed. The sum may not reflect total riders accurately as riders may use both multiple lines daily.

Operator Average daily ridership
East Japan Railway Company 14,526,027 [12]
Tokyo Metro 5,760,000 [13]
Tobu Railway 2,730,000[13]
Tokyo Kyuko Electric Railway 2,730,000 [13]
Toei Subway 2,086,083[14]
Odakyu Electric Railway 1,850,000 [13]
Seibu Railway 1,660,000 [13]
Keio Electric Railway 1,660,000 [13]
Keihin Electric Express Railway 1,170,000 [13]
Keisei Electric Railway 680,000 [13]
Sagami Railway 620,000 [13]
Total 36,823,673 [12]


Public buses in Greater Tokyo usually serve a secondary role, feeding bus passengers to and from train stations. Exceptions are long distance bus services, buses in areas poorly served by rail (not many exist), and airport bus services for people with luggage. Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation operates Toei buses mainly within the 23 special wards while private bus companies (mostly the subsidiaries of the large train operators listed above) operate other bus routes, as do other city governments, such as Kawasaki City Bus, Yokohama City Bus, etc. Toei buses have a fixed fare of 200 yen[15] per ride, while most other companies charge according to distance. Some train operators offer combined bus/train tickets; special fares apply for children, seniors and the disabled. Some routes feature non-step buses with a kneeling function to assist mobility-impaired users.[16]


Taxis also serve a similar role to buses, supplementing the rail system, especially after midnight when most rail lines cease to operate. People moving around the city on business often chose taxis for convenience, as do people setting out in small groups.

As of December 2007, taxis cost ¥710 (~$7.89 at ¥90/$1 USD) for the first two kilometers, and ¥90 for every 288 meters thereafter, or approximately ¥312.5 per kilometer. Most companies tend to raise fares by 20% between 22:00-5:00, but other companies have kept fares low to compete in a crowded market.[17][18]


This marker in Nihonbashi is the place from which distances along highways are reckoned

Local and regional highways

National, prefectural and metropolitan, and local roads crisscross the region. Some of the major national highways are Routes 1, 4, 6, 14, 16, 17, and 20. Route 1 links Tokyo to Osaka along the old Tōkaidō, while Route 6 and Route 4 carries traffic north all the way to Sendai and Aomori respectively. Route 14 connects Nihonbashi with Chiba Prefecture. Route 16 is a heavily travelled circumferential linking Yokosuka, Yokohama, western Tokyo, Saitama, and Chiba. Route 17 originates in central Tokyo and passes through Saitama en route to Niigata Prefecture. Route 20 crosses Tokyo from east to west, continuing into Yamanashi Prefecture. The datum from which distances are reckoned is in Nihonbashi.


The Shuto Expressway network covers central Tokyo, linking the intercity expressways together, while primarily serving commuters and truck traffic. The Bayshore Route bypasses Tokyo by traveling from Kanagawa Prefecture in between, above, and under manmade islands around Tokyo Bay to Chiba Prefecture. The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line, which goes underneath Tokyo Bay, links Kawasaki to Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture. Important regional expressways include the Tokyo Gaikan Expressway, Daisan-Keihin Road, and Keiyō Road. Presently under construction (with some segments operating), the Ken-Ō Expressway will be a major circumferential through the area.

Many long-distance expressway routes converge at Tokyo including the Tōmei Expressway, Chūō Expressway, Kan-Etsu Expressway, and Tōhoku Expressway.

Maritime transport

Passenger ferries

Tokyo-Wan Ferry Shirahama-maru

The notable route which serves as internal transport is Tokyo-Wan Ferry, the car-passenger ferry route between Yokosuka, Kanagawa and Futtsu, Chiba,[19] crossing Tokyo Bay. Other passenger services within the bay are mostly used as scenic cruises, such as Tokyo Cruise Ship and Tokyo Mizube Line in Tokyo, The Port Service and Keihin Ferry Boat in Yokohama.

Out of the bay, the car-passenger ferries to the Izu Islands and the Ogasawara Islands, Shikoku, Kyūshū, the Amami Islands and Okinawa serve from the ports of Tokyo or Yokohama.[20] The car-passenger ferries to Hokkaidō serve from Ōarai, Ibaraki.[20] There are some other freight ferries (which can carry less than 13 passengers) serving out of the Bay.


Shipping plays a crucial role for inbound and outbound freight, both domestic and international. The Port of Tokyo and Port of Yokohama are both major ports for Japan and Greater Tokyo.

See also


  1. ^ a b There are 0.61 commuter rail stations in the Tokyo area per square mile (one for each 1.6 square miles) of developed land area, though there are more in Osaka and Nagoya, combined with the high density connecting bus networks, Commuter rail ridership very dense, at 6 million per line mile annually, by the highest among automotive urban areas. Urban Transport Factbook, Tokyo-Yokohama Suburban Rail Summary
  2. ^ According to the Shinjuku Station article, the station was used by an average of 3.64 million people per day in 2007. See the article for the exact sources. It is registered with Guinness World Records.
  3. ^ BBC NEWS | Business | German train strike brings chaos
  4. ^ JR East 1,571,602 (785,801×2), Odakyū 498,918, Keiō 747,407l, Toei 262,688+130,800, Tokyo Metro 240,984, Seibu 188,184
  5. ^ JR East 1,179,674, Tobu 519,271, Seibu 520,164, Tokyo Metro 491,958
  6. ^ JR East 891,460, Tokyu 414,833+680,395, Tokyo Metro Hanzoumon Line 472,123+258,609, Keio 343,697
  7. ^ JR East 806,788, Yokohama Municipal Subway 132,290 (66,145×2), Keikyū 308,041, Tokyu 323,851, Yokohama Minatomirai Railway 134,830, Railway 440,986
  8. ^ JR East 792,304, JR Central 190,000 (95,000×2), Tokyo Metro 140,486
  9. ^ JR East 648,506, JR Central 21,872, Keikyū 242,804
  10. ^ JR East 424,572, Seibu 294,094, [ Tokyo Metro 187,458
  11. ^ JR East 499,214, Tokyo Metro 217,790, Toei 78,139, Yurikamome 58,824
  12. ^ a b From Survey of the regional flowages of freights and passengers, MLIT official website. According to the chart 2-5-1, page 104, JR transported 5,224,806 thousand passengers within Greater Tokyo Area, in 2005 (Heisei 17) fiscal year. According to the chart 2-5-2, page 105, private railways transported 8,215,835 thousand, so railways in total transported 13,440,641 thousand.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  14. ^ Business Outline from Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation official website.
  15. ^ Toei Transportation Information: Operations
  16. ^ Toei Bus official website: 50% of buses are now non-step buses.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ ja:東京湾フェリー as of 2007-08-01T09:48 retrieved on 2007-09-07.
  20. ^ a b ja:日本のフェリー会社一覧 as of 2007-09-05T13:17 retrieved on 2007-09-07.

External links

  • JR East official website, showing the map of the Suica/PASMO accepting area, which roughly corresponds with Greater Tokyo Area (Japanese)
  • Greater Tōkyō Railway Network, unofficial railway map of Greater Tokyo (English)
  • Tokyo Railway Map, bilingual railway map of central Tokyo (Japanese) (English)


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