New policy seeks to remove additional financial burden in a country where not taking the train often isn’t an option.

In many parts of Japan, the most populous cities in particular, taking the train is an essential part of maintaining a reasonable standard of living. Stores selling daily necessities, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, and clothing stores, as well as hospitals and government offices, tend to be clustered around rail stations, so unless you’re fortunate (and wealthy) enough to live right by a major one that has every place you’ll need to go, sooner or later you’re going to have to get on a train.

That comes with an extra difficulty, though, for mentally handicapped riders. Many require the assistance of a family member, medical helper, or other kind of caregiver when taking public transportation. Two people taking the train, however, need two tickets, making those train trips doubly expensive.

So to alleviate that burden, this week a number of rail operators announced that they will begin offering discounts to mentally handicapped riders and their accompanying caregivers. 50 percent of the ticket fair will be waived, in effect allowing the pair of passengers to ride for the same total price as a passenger who’s able to make the trip without assistance.

Japan Railways Group/JR said the discounts will be offered on all of JR’s various regional groupings: JR East, Central, West, Kyushu, Shikoku, and Hokkaido. In the Tokyo area, the Tokyo Metro subway network, as well as rail operators Tokyu, Odakyu, Keikyu, Keisei, and Tobu, will be doing likewise, as will Keihan in the Kansai region. The discounts will be available for both single-use tickets and for commuter passes, which will be a major benefit for passengers who need to regularly travel back and forth along the same route for medical treatment, counseling sessions, or educational programs. The discounts will be available to passengers with Classification 1 or Classification 2 mental disorders and their accompanying caregiver.

▼ Discounts will be granted automatically through cashless payment train cards, registered and marked as belonging either to a mentally handicapped rider or their caregiver.

Most of the rail operators plan to introduce the discounts on April 1 of 2025, with the start of the new business year. Keisei, however, is wasting no time and will put the policy into effect on June 1 of this year, and Tokyo Metro single-use tickers will be eligible for the discounts on August 1, with the subway network’s commuter pass discounts starting on April 1 of 2025.

Source: Kyodo via Livedoor News via Hachima Kiko, NHK News Web, JR East, Tokyo Metro, Keikyu, Keisei, Tokyu, Odakyu, Tobu
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: JR East
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