Sunday, May 13, 2018

Taking the Subway at Sapporo [Hokkaido, Japan]

Without the convenience of the rented car that had been our only mode of transport for the past few days, both Alex and i had to rely on the public transportation in Sapporo and for me, i have always preferred navigating a subway system (instead of a bus system) in a foreign country. 

The lines are clearly defined and in a city with a population of less than two million people, the system is not as complicated as in the case of Seoul which has a population that's five times Sapporo! 

Let's start with the essentials; buying the tickets from the vending machine. There's also a smart card known as SAPICA that works like EZlink; Singapore's stored-value card.

One reason why i like subway systems; they often have machines with an English option for travellers who don't understand the native language.

After paying the necessary fare (minimum was 200 yen which translates into about S$2.50), do remember to take your ticket that popped out from the machine dispenser! 

Ticket is very cute hor; almost like a movie ticket.

Aside from per-trip tickets, you can also opt for a day-ticket which cost 840 yen (about S$10) on weekdays. It can be quite worth it if you need to traverse across a few stations a day as we did on day seven. 

Day-ticket on weekends and public holidays was priced even cheaper at only 520 yen. More information (including pricing for a child) as above for your reference. 

There are only three subway lines in Sapporo as of August 2017; Toho, Namboku and Tozai with a total of 49 stations and a length of 49 kilometers. The only interchange station that serves all three lines is Odori station which is near our choice of accommodation; UNIZO Inn

Feeding the ticket at the gantry; an old school method which requires you to ensure you insert correctly (i.e. face up). Is there a need to upgrade as Singapore did in 2001? 

Maybe if the population booms in the future and there's a greater need for quicker clearance which could be assisted via the contact-less mode. 

Subway platform - wait, it's a driver-less train?! No, it's not; this was taken at the tail end of the train. To think that i actually tried to search on the web if the system is indeed driver-free as in the case of some lines in Singapore.

Half length platform doors - for those relatively young Singaporeans reading this, the MRT stations in Singapore actually didn't come with the platform doors until numerous incidents of people falling down onto the tracks. 

By the way, have you noticed that the operator had labelled carriage and cabin on the platform door? When i knew the reason, i am dumbfounded as i wonder why the subway operators in Singapore are not doing the same thing!? 

The answer is that of efficiency, as a corresponding notice gave the information which carriage / cabin would be nearest to staircase, the elevators and / or the escalators! 

Lighted panel of the line map. 

Train cabin! And you know what hit us when we stepped in? The quietness which was strange and weird given that Singapore's trains were commonly filled with people chatting with each other, playing the games in the phone or even playing music from their devices! 

The journey was so peaceful even during peak period and i can imagine people sleeping through the stations! Talking on the phone is actually frowned upon on the trains (many signs pointed to the aforementioned) and another train etiquette is that you have to silent your phone.

Want to know more of the train etiquette in Japan? Check out here.  

A few more posters on the dos and dont's! Bagged down or put your bag in front of you! This is something that Singapore has been doing with any success! It's an irritation when people come in with a big backpack and keep moving without a care of commuters behind them! 

Fabric seats for those with sharp /boney butts like mine!

Sign for reserved seats; in Thailand, monks are given priority for reserved seats and here in Hokkaido, those with internal organ disabilities are included. The only problem is; how would anyone know and i also don't quite understand the definition of organ disability.

Information above the train doors. 

Maps showing the surroundings of the subway station; i really like it when maps were on display at the platform and you can plan for your route once you step out of the train.

We have the same thing in the little red dot but the map is often outside the control station; which means i could have exited from another gantry which is further from my destination! 

These colourful navigation signs were so helpful! 

A typical subway station exit.

Light-hearted notice asking you to be careful of the doors (necessary to have doors as Hokkaido is a snow city in winter); you wouldn't want to cry like the monkey! 


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