Annex 6 Case Studies of IC Cards for Public Transport

PASMO/Suica, Tokyo, Japan

PASMO and Suica are prepaid public transport IC cards which provide various payment options to users in the Tokyo Metropolitan Region, as well as benefiting the transport entities by reducing the required management of the complicated fare collection, as well as delays of buses caused by fare collection.

PASMO and Suica are different, but inter-changeable IC cards, provided by two separate companies. In 2002, East Japan Railway Company introduced Suica for travel within their railways as the first public transport IC card for multiple line travel in Japan. At first, this IC card system was isolated for their railway services only and those of a few other public transport entities, though this was later expanded. In 2004, PASMO Corporation was set up and funded by 11 railway and 19 bus entities as a provider of common IC cards for their transport services. By 2007, when PASMO IC card started to be issued, PASMO and Suica became popular IC cards covering almost all public transport services in the Kanto area of Japan. As of April 2008, 27 railway entities, including metros, monorails, and heavy rails, and 52 bus entities have introduced PASMO or Suica system as their IC card system. This high participation of major public transport entities has contributed to the smooth travel of passengers among different transport modes and reduced the time to purchase tickets by cash.

PASMO and Suica IC cards can be purchased at ticket machines or ticket offices of participating entities. The primary price of one card is JPY 2000 (approximately US$20) including a deposit of JPY 500, which is paid back when the user eventually returns the card. Once the user has purchased the card, it can be re-charged at any time by purchasing additional credit at the ticket machines up to maximum balance of JPY 20,000. It is also possible to purchase and store train passes for one month or longer on the IC card at those ticket machines.

When the passenger approaches the railway gate entrance, he simply touches the ‘blue zone’ of the gate machine with the IC card and the gate opens. This is repeated at the destination station at the exit gate. A record of the station origin and destination is recorded on the card, so that the correct charge is deducted from the card’s credit. The fare and remaining credit value is also displayed on the gate machine. In the case of buses, a ticket machine with a coloured zone touch-pad for the IC card is located next to the driver seat.

IC cards are available not only for public transport services, but also for general purchases at vending machines and shops, which participate in the IC card system. Users can therefore store credit on IC cards as an optional service and use them for various payments. A further option is the installation of Suica on mobile phones, which allows users to need only their personal mobile phone to pay for public transport services and other shopping.

Ticket Machine for Suica Card

Gate Entrance with Suica System

Blue Zone Touch-pad for Gate Entry

Purchasing Goods using a Suica Card

Source: East Japan Railway Company

In addition to passengers, the public transport entities also obtain various benefits from the IC card system, such as reduced congestion around ticket machines or reduced bus delays caused by on-board cash fare collection. Another benefit is an increase in public transport users due to the provision of convenient services with smooth transfers between different public transport entities or different transport modes. The commercial activities of rail companies inside stations are also increased due to the simplification of purchasing by transport IC cards.

All sales from PASMO card are collected by PASMO Corporation and divided into between the individual participating public transport entities on the basis of fare revenue share. For this procedure, PASMO Corporation records the origin and destination of each trip made by PASMO users. The trips are considered as the shortest path connecting the origin and destination using the participating transport entities. In the same way, East Japan Railway Company collects and distributes the sales of Suica.

Although not all public transport services in the Kanto region of Japan have installed the PASMO/Suica system, the number of participating entities and service lines have been steadily increasing and will cover all services in this area within the near future. There are also plans for PASMO/Suica to become operable with other IC systems in other areas in Japan.

Source:, East Japan Railway Company,, PASMO Corporation

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