Kyoto Bus Co., Ltd (京都バス)
Kyoto Bus Co., Ltd., whose head office is located in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, is a route bus operator belonging to the Keihan Electric Railway Group. Its routes mainly cover the northern area of Kyoto City, but some extend to Otsu City and Takashima City (old Kutsuki-mura) in Shiga Prefecture. Incidentally, the company has no financial and/or personal ties with Kyoto City Bus (Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau), which also operates route buses.
The 'Hirogawara' bus stop, as the terminal of the Hanase Line, is the northernmost bus stop in Kyoto City (Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City) and the 'Kutsuki-gakko-mae' bus stop (Takashima City, Shiga Prefecture), the terminal of the Hira Line, is located at the northernmost end of the area where KANSAI THRU PASS is usable (inclusive of both railways and bus service (public transport)). While KANSAI THRU PASS is usable, a common pass of Keihan Electric Railway Group isn't usable (it's usable only on buses operated by Keihan Bus Co., Ltd. (except for the Otsu area) and Keihan City Bus, Keihan Kyoto Kotsu and Keihan Uji Bus Co., Ltd., which are the wholly owned subsidiaries of Keihan Bus Co., Ltd.).
The company's predecessors
1921: Rakuhoku Jidosha Co., Ltd., was founded. The company established its head office and business office in Koyama-Shimouchi-Kawara-cho, Kita Ward, Kyoto City (the western edge of Kitaoji-bashi Bridge), and it was one of the first bus companies in Kyoto. Although the company initially operated bus routes from Demachi-bashi Bridge to Miyake-Hachimangu Shrine and Ohara-mura, it expanded its bus-route network year by year and once dominated the bus-service business in the Rakuhoku area.
However, (the old) Eizan Electric Railway, which was directly managed by Kyoto Dento, an electric power company (later Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd.) and Kurama Electric Railway (the present Kurama Line of Eizan Electric Railway), which was also effectively managed by Kyoto Dento, commenced operations in 1925 and 1928, respectively, and the company's business results declined due to fierce competition among those companies. Under such circumstances, the company sparked a battle with Kurama Electric Railway in order to win more passengers, but the battle caused various adverse effects; ultimately, the company was acquired by Kurama Electric Railway in 1930 and effectively came under the control of Kyoto Dento. In 1933, the company acquired Kumogahata Bus, which operated the route from the Kitaoji-bashi stop of Kyoto City Trams to Kumogahata, and public transport that ran in the Rakuhoku area was finally stabilized. The current company emblem--a feathered round fan--was formerly used by Kurama Electric Railway.
In the Arashiyama area, Arashiyama Jidosha Shokai started business and operated the route from Senbon-dori Marutamachi-dori streets to Arashiyama Togetsu-kyo Bridge via Uzumasa, but due to the adverse effects caused by the competition with Arashiyama Electric Railway, which was under the direct control of Kyoto Dento, it was also acquired by Kyoto Dento, and Arashiyama Bus Co., Ltd. was established in 1938.
Under the aggravating war situation such as during the Manchurian Incident and World War Ⅱ, 'Ordinance for Electricity Distribution Control' came into force in 1941 as part of the economic control measures; moreover, Kyoto Dento was dissolved in April 1942 after assigning the electric generation and transmission division to Japan Electric Generation and Transmission Company Co., Ltd., and the electric distribution division to Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc., and Hokuriku Electric Power Company Co., Inc. The remaining (railway) division became independent as Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., and it directly managed three electric railway companies (Echizen, Arashiyama and Eizan) and indirectly managed Mikuni Awara Dentetsu, the Eiheiji Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., the Maruoka Line of Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., Atagoyama Electric Railway, Kurama Electric Railway as well as their affiliated bus businesses.
As the allocation of gasoline for use in cars was suspended during the war period, that being the so-called substitution era, charcoal-fueled cars and electric cars were used in place of gasoline cars, but their horsepower was substantially inferior to that of gasoline cars and Kumara Jidosha, which relied mainly on charcoal cars, barely continued its business while suspending the operation of the route for Kurama northward. Arashiyama Bus, which mainly used electric cars, was also forced to cease the operation of all routes due to the limited battery capability, and both companies faced the challenge of doing business as independent entities. Under such circumstances, Kyoto Bus Co., Ltd., which was a wholly owned subsidiary of Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd., was established in 1948 as a radical measure to cope with the situation.
After the establishment of Kyoto Bus
Kyoto Bus started its business as a relatively small company of 27 employees and 14 cars, having inherited from the former two companies the nature of a suburban bus company in the Rakuhoku and Rakusai areas; however, after the war it gradually resumed the operation of the routes that had been suspended until the merger, thanks to the improvement of the situation surrounding the supplies of materials and fuels.
The company's biggest tasks, subsequent to its inauguration, were to expand and make inroads into the area within the city--especially to the principal terminals--because since the pre-war period private bus companies had operated basically in the suburban area while City Tram and City Bus (operated by the City Transportation Bureau) had dominated the area within the city; as a result, the company faced a strong request from its passengers to run buses by which they could reach the city center without having to transfer.
As a result of the negotiation with administrative agencies and other relevant institutions, the company concluded a joint-operation agreement with Kyoto City, and based on that agreement the routes of Kumogahata, Kamikuroda, Ohara and Tochu were extended to Sanjo-Keihan in 1950 and the routes of Ohara and Tochu were further extended to Shijo-dori Omiya-dori in 1952. In 1953, direct bus service from Arashiyama to Sanjo-Keihan as well as the extension of the Kumogahata and Kamikuroda lines to Shijo-Omiya were allowed, and in the following year direct bus service from Arashiyama to Kyoto Station was realized.
Although it seemed that the company had achieved its objective of making inroads into the city center and passengers' dissatisfaction was resolved thanks to the aforementioned agreement, the company's operations were still restricted by the so-called 'closed door system' under which 'passengers could get off but weren't allowed to get on' at the bus stops of newly extended routes while 'passengers going from the city center to the suburbs could get on but weren't allowed to get off ' at those bus stops.
However, as the effects of the above restrictions on the company's operation became serious with the increased numbers of passengers and bus routes, the company continued negotiations with Kyoto City; finally, in 1972, a long-awaited open door system was realized when the company concluded an agreement with the City Transportation Bureau concerning the abolishment of the closed-door system.
As the transfer from substitute-fuel cars to gasoline cars had become possible since 1949 thanks to the improved oil supply, many companies across the country applied for licenses as sightseeing bus operators; in 1950, Kyoto Bus also applied for a license and introduced its general reserve passenger bus business in November of that year.
The severe environment surrounding Kyoto Bus Co., Ltd.
The operation of the reserve bus business became difficult to continue due to the low operation rates and profitability caused by obstacles such as the limited numbers of people visiting other regions, despite Kyoto's reputation as Japan's largest tourist destination; the considerable fluctuation between the tourist season and the off-season; the inflow of tourist buses and private cars from other prefectures; and the outflow of people from the city using private cars. Consequently, in 1968 the company concluded a business-assignment agreement with Kokusai Motorcars Co., Ltd., whose head office was located in Tokyo, and abolished the reserve bus division that the company had operated for the past 18 years. Years later, in 2001, the company restarted the reserve bus business by obtaining a license as a large reserve passenger bus operator and began contract transport service by providing shuttle bus service, with the use of microbuses, between Kyoto Sangyo University and Nikenchaya Station (Kyoto Prefecture) in 2001, followed by employee transport for Kawashima Selkon Textiles Co., Ltd., in August of the same year and that for Izumiya (Qanat Rakuhoku) in December. In 2003, the company introduced large reserve buses after 34 years in business, and in 2005 it introduced full-size (12m) high-deck sightseeing buses.
The decreasing trend of bus passengers has become serious in recent years due to the significant increase in private cars, minibikes and bicycles in Kyoto City, as caused by the nationwide trend of motorization and the diversification of public transport such as the opening of the Karasuma Line of the Kyoto Municipal Subway in 1981. In addition to the above, such factors as the decrease of population along the routes, the aging of residents, the opening of the Keihan Oto Line of the Keihan Electric Railway in 1989, the full opening of the Karasuma Line in 1997 (by which the Kitayama Station (Kyoto Prefecture) - Kokusaikaikan Station section was extended), the opening of a new station and the completion of electrification and partial double-tracking of the JR Sanin Main Line (Sagano Line) (the work required for full double-tracking is continuing between Kyoto Station and Sonobe Station) promoted the shift of passengers to electric trains because of the reduced travel time and the convenience of transfer to other means of public transportation, and under such circumstances the company's number of passengers has continued to decrease since its peak period of 1975.
To cope with such a critical situation, the company has endeavored to increase sales and diversify its business through various means, such as the capital increase in 1993 with the support of Keifuku Electric Railroad and Keihan Electric Railway, the launch of 'Hanase Yama-no-ie' (an outdoor recreation center in Hanase which is run by Kyoto City) specific transport (1993; some routes of this specific transport extend to Uji City) and the implementation of 'Kitayama Sankakuten Trek' tour (since 1998) while maintaining the lines running through depopulated areas via the rationalization efforts such as the reshuffling of lines in 1992 (such reshuffling was also done in 1997 when the Karasuma Line fully opened and the Kyoto City Bus lines running in the northern area of Sakyo Ward were transferred to the company), the flexible change of cars depending on the transport demand (from large buses to medium-size buses and further to microbuses) and the revision of the time schedule.
Lines under its jurisdiction: Hieizan Line, Hanazono Line, Kyoto Station Line, Gojo Line, Arashiyama Takao Line
Lines under its jurisdiction: Hira Line, Ohara Line, Kodeishi Line, Shirakawa Line, Iwakura Line, Iwakura Shin (new) Line, Iwakura Higashi (east) Line, Hataeda Line, Takano-Iwakura Shutsunyuko Line (those departing from and arriving at Takano-shako Depot), Kumogahata Line, Hanase Line, Kibune Line, Ohara-Kurama Line, Shizuichi Line, Nishikamo Line, Sandai (Kyoto Sangyo University) Line, Sandai-Kitayama Line (between Kyoto Sangyo University and Kitayama Station), Sandai-Kokusai Line (between Kyoto Sangyo University and Kokusaikaikan Station
In the past, the company, unlike other route bus operators in Kinki area, used bodies manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd., for its all buses, including other makers' buses than those of Nissan Diesel Motor Co., Ltd., whose genuine bodies were manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd. After Fuji Heavy Industries ceased the installation of bodies to the chassis of Hino in 1998, Hino buses using genuine bodies (manufactured by Hino Body Co., Ltd.) were introduced. Since 2000, Isuzu buses using genuine bodies (manufactured by Isuzu Bus Manufacturing, Ltd.) have also been used. After Fuji Heavy Industries ceased the manufacture of bus bodies in 2003, buses of Nissan Diesel Motor using the bodies manufactured by Nishinippon Shatai Kogyo Co., Ltd., have been used.
Unlike other bus companies, the company posts on its website a list of buses used for route bus service for each office.
In March 2001, a large one-step bus and two medium-size non-step buses were introduced for Arashiyama office. A large bus was the 'Hino Blue Ribbon City one-step,' and two medium-size buses were the 'Hino Rainbow HR non-step,' which were the first non-step buses in Kyoto.
These models appeared for the first time in Kyoto City, and medium-size buses of 8990 mm in length, 2300 mm in width and 300 mm in floor height--which excelled in the ease of getting on and off and conformed to the standard for the designation of low-emission cars--prevailed.
They also conformed to the standard stipulated in the Barrier-Free Transportation Act, which came into force in the spring of that year, and they include various devices intended to facilitate wheelchair access and obtain the space to secure them.
The S'elega R-FC, which was introduced in fiscal year 2002 and was painted smoky orange, is the bus that departs from the image of the color of Kyoto Bus; a large (9m) sightseeing bus, it was the first such vehicle to be introduced since the company assigned its sightseeing bus division in April 1969. On all four sides of its body, 'KYOTO BUS,' the company logo written in the Roman alphabet, and four stripes (red, blue, orange and yellow) are arranged, and the basic color of the seats inside the bus is dark blue imprinted with patterns similar to stripes on the body. It's equipped with 28 seats (those of two back rows rotate for use as a salon), a sub-engine-type automated air-conditioner, an LCD monitor television embedded in the ceiling, a synthesizer karaoke system and a car-navigation system with a sightseeing guidance function. A large bus (10.5 m) using the 'New 7E Body' was introduced to the Takano office for the first time in two years. The principal changes in the appearance of Fuji Heavy Industries' body after its model changes are the change in the positions of the bumper-mounted fog lamps, the installation of side fog lamps, the adoption of a sheet of window glass for the front direction curtain and the abolishment of the drain molding from beneath the side windows. This was the first bus at the Takano office that could handle wheelchairs. Isuzu ERGA LV' was introduced as a full-size model, 10.5 meters in length, being different from 'ERGA LT' (nine meters in length) that was introduced in the year before last. Like the buses of Nissan Diesel Motor, this bus also could handle wheelchairs. Although two buses of Rainbow HR were introduced in two consecutive years, they were seven meters in length since they were to be used on the narrow roads within the jurisdiction of the Takano office.
In fiscal year 2003, UA one-step buses were introduced for two consecutive years, using bodies manufactured by Nishinippon Shatai Kogyo for the first time in 30 years since the last bus was discarded in March 1974 because, as mentioned above, Fuji Heavy Industries had ceased the manufacture of bus bodies. Additionally, two Blue Ribbon City one-step and an ERGA LV were introduced.
In fiscal year 2004, seven Blue Ribbon City one-step and three ERGA LV vehicles were introduced, and although their specs were basically same as those of the previous year's model, they were equipped with LED destination displays for the sake of modernization and certain other improvements were made, such as the abolishment of marker lamps, the change of buttons for requesting a stop and the change in the design of passenger hand-poles.
A full-size (12m) high-deck sightseeing bus, the S'elega R-FD, was introduced for the first time for Kyoto Bus, and although its body design inherited that of medium-size salon car introduced in 2002, it had 60 seats (including spare seats) and was equipped with two LCD monitor TVs (at the front and back of the bus) as well as synthesizer karaoke.
Moreover, two Hino Melpha vehicles were introduced, and one of them was equipped with a microphone for use as a melody bus running in mountain areas.
In fiscal year 2005, a Blue Ribbon City one-step and two ERGA LV vehicles were introduced as usual, and additionally three UA one-step models using bodies manufactured by Nishinippon Shatai Kogyo were introduced at one-year intervals since fiscal 2003. A new seat design (shared with that of Keihan Bus) was adopted for the buses introduced in fiscal year 2005.
In fiscal year 2006, while the Takano office introduced five ERGA LVs as usual, the Arashiyama office, which had until then used buses manufactured by Hino Motors, Ltd., introduced six 'Hino Blue Ribbon Ⅱ' vehicles, which were manufactured by Isuzu Motors, Ltd., on an OEM basis because Hino Motors had consolidated and eliminated the number of its car line. The buses introduced in fiscal 2006 were subject to the revised short-time emission control standard, to which their engines complied.
As of March 2006, 67 buses are allocated at the Takano office. The breakdown of the above is 45 large buses (33 buses of Nissan Diesel Motor and 12 buses of Isuzu Motors), 11 medium-size buses (7 semi-large buses of Isuzu, 2 Hino HR9m and 2 Hino HR7m) and 11 microbuses (Hino), and among them, five microbuses are used for both route bus service and reserve bus service.
As some buses under the jurisdiction of the Takano office run in the Kitayama mountain area, such as Kutsuki-mura, Kumogahata and Hanase, medium-size buses are used for routes 19 and 32 while microbuses are used for routes 33 and 37 as well as route 27, 29, 46, etc.
One-step buses have been in use since 1999.
As of March 2006, 67 buses are allocated at the Arashiyama office.
The breakdown of the above is 48 large buses for route bus service (47 buses of Hino Motor, one bus of Nissan Diesel), seven medium-size buses (the 9.5m version of a large bus) (Isuzu) for specific use (Hanase Yama-no-ie), one S'elega R (FD), three large buses of Nissan Diesel, two microbuses (Hino), two buses of Hino and one bus of Mitsubishi for exclusive use in shuttle bus service for Kyoto Sangyo University, and one large bus of Hino and another large bus of Nissan Diesel for exclusive use in training.
In 1996, Kyoto Bus commenced its reserve bus business using microbuses. In 1996, two buses were dedicated exclusively to reserve bus service, while three buses were used for both reserve bus service and route bus service. Subsequently, in 2000 three large buses of the 1984 model, which had been used for both services, were registered for the exclusive use of reserved bus service.
Other than the above, the shuttle bus service for Kyoto Sangyo University is being operated on a reserve service basis, and from time to time buses for route bus service are used for route reserved bus service.