Secrets to the Punctual Japanese Buses – Gaijinhan

Secrets to the Punctual Japanese Buses

Have you ever wondered how and why the buses in Japan are more often than not, unfathomably punctual? If you think about it, it makes very little sense for a bus system to be so strict about time to be punctual. I know that seems to be a semantically null sentence, but hear me out.

Japanese buses are so strict about time, that even if they arrive at a bus stop early, they will not leave until the scheduled time; even if there were no one at the bus stop, just so people who planned to take the bus at that time don’t miss it. And if you never leave a stop early, the likelihood of you constantly arriving at every bus stop on time decreases, right?

Never mind if that didn’t make sense.

If you’ve taken enough Japanese buses along busy roads, you may have noticed that these buses seem to be really lucky to hardly be caught by the red light. This is because, there are sensors at the front of buses and infrared beacons near traffic junctions where congestion is likely to happen such that whenever a bus nears a traffic light, signals are sent to a control center to prioritize traffic flow in the direction the bus is traveling by shortening red light time and/or extending green light time. This way, it gives people more reason take public transport since it supposedly has a smoother traffic flow although fewer than 10 percent of the population actually knew about this.

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Device that sends bus’ location information to control center

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Bus’ location information is sent to infrared beacon

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Infrared beacon sends data to control center

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Control center extends green light time/reduces red light time

So, technically speaking, while most people dislike driving behind buses (or large vehicles in general), it makes more sense to drive behind them knowing that they get priority green light. Needless to say (and I’m saying it anyway), do not drive behind them during restricted hours. If you do, they also have a sensor that detects your vehicle which will then display a warning sign on the panel at the back of the bus.

Amazing technology, eh?

Maybe Singapore can implement this to promote public transport usage.

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