Thru Surutto KANSAI (KANSAI PASS) (スルッとKANSAI)
Surutto KANSAI is the network of the railway cards for the public transport system in Kansai (Kinki area), or the biggest company in its association, which has a head office in Osaka City, Osaka-Prefecture. The company's official business name is Surutto KANSAI Co., Ltd.
Surutto KANSAI is the name of the system, but the name of the card varies depending on which company issues it.
On April 1, 1992 the Hankyu Railway Co., Ltd. introduced the usage of a stored fare system, 'Lagare Through,' using the Lagare Card, which was previously used to purchase a ticket or to adjust the train fare; the Nose Electric Railway Co., Ltd. also introduced its Pastoral Card together with the Lagare Card in 1994. As Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd., Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau and Kita-Osaka Kyuko Railway Co., Ltd. were considering the possibility of updating the auto-ticketing machine system, but they were approached to join in this system using the same service name, 'Surutto KANSAI (KANSAI THRU PASS),' and it started operation on March 20, 1996.
Originally, the day-to-day operation of Surutto KANSAI (KANSAI THRU PASS) was distributed to each association member, but as the number of members increased, Surutto KANSAI Co., Ltd. was established on July 18, 2000 to do full-time management of the company for the sake of smooth operations.
Surutto KANSAI sells not only prepaid tickets but also various tickets, and plans and produces products of the companies of association members in collaboration with other sales companies; it sells toys or gum jointly made by companies, such as Bandai Co., Ltd. or Meiji Seika Kaisya Ltd., at major stations. Surutto KANSAI also purveys a part of the materials for mounting tickets (the government-owned public transport is an exception, since the materials become available through tender). Because the jointly planned products like toys, compact discs or limited-edition models of the B Train Shorty from Bandai are all one-off sale products, once they're sold out there is no reselling, so many railway fans living in Kansai ask for the reselling of products with unlimited stock and pre-order sale. (There was a sale of the B Train Shorty that was modified to sell to the public from Nankai Electric Railway Co., Ltd. in November 2005 and September 2007, from Hankyu Railway, Keihan Electric Railway Co., Ltd. and Sanyo Electric Railway Co., Ltd. from June to August 2007, from Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau in January 2008 and from Kintetsu Corporation/Kintetsu Railways in March 2008).
The 'PiTaPa,' a contactless IC card, was introduced in 2004.
Accordingly, not only other transportation companies in Kansai but also companies from Okayama and Shizuoka prefectures joined the Surutto KANSAI Association in order to start using 'PiTaPa.'
As 'PiTaPa' can be used as an electric money card, department stores and local public bodies have participated in the system (please see the PiTaPa section for the details of participants and the introduction period).
It is said that 'Surutto KANSAI,' the magnetic train ticket, can be used in the entire area of the Kinki district (Keihanshin district- Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe area), but there are some areas--particularly within bus routes--where the card can't be used. In Shiga Prefecture the card can be used on the Keihan Keishin Line, Hieizan Railway (Sakamoto Cable Car), Keihan Uji Bus Co., Ltd. operated in Otsu City and Kyoto Bus Hira Route operated in Takashima City. The Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line (introduced PiTaPa on April 1, 2007), Omi Railway Corporation (both railway and bus) of the Seibu Group, a major transportation company in Shiga Prefecture, Kojak Bus Co., Ltd. of the Keihan Group and the independent company Teisan Konan Kotsu, as well as Shiga Kotsu, aren't part of the network (they haven't even joined the association); Surutto KANSAI isn't popular in Shiga Prefecture (although Keihan Bus operates in Shiga Prefecture, Surutto KANSAI is not in service as the system has only been introduced into a few of the business offices in charge of running local transportation). Compared to Surutto KANSAI, the J-Thru card or the ICOCA card can be used widely in the West Japan Railway Company (JR West Japan) within Shiga Prefecture. (however, no bus company accepts the J-Thru card or ICOCA card in Shiga Prefecture).
The Surutto KANSAI card can't be used in Nara Kotsu Bus Lines Co., Ltd. or Shinkibus Co., Ltd., which are major bus companies in Nara and Hyogo Prefectures (however, both companies are members of the association and are considering the possibility of introducing the system together with IC card, PiTaPa). The Surutto KANSAI card can't be used in the Yasaka Bus Co., Ltd. of Kyoto City, Hankai Tramway Co., Ltd. of South Osaka District (Nankai Group), Chunichi Rinkai Bus Co., Ltd., Kongo Motor Co., Ltd., Nihonjo Taxi Co., Ltd., Himeji City Business Transport Division in the Harima district and the Akashi City traffic section, but they aren't part of the association (the J-Thru card can be used for the Akashi city traffic section). Mizuma Railway Co., Ltd. and Keihan Kyoto Kotsu Co., Ltd. decided to join Surutto KANSAI Association and participated in their event held in autumn 2007 (Keihan Kyoto Kotsu introduced Surutto KANSAI together with 'PiTaPa' on March 1, 2008, an expected introductory period for Mizuma Railway Co., Ltd., and other buses is unknown).
On the other hand, in Wakayama Prefecture the system is introduced by Wakayama Bus Naga Co., Ltd. of the Nankai Group (except for special routes), Wakayama Bus Co., Ltd. and Nankai Rinkan Bus Co., Ltd. (except for express buses arriving and departing from Koyasan Station). The Surutto KANSAI card isn't available in the Wakayama Electric Railway Co., Ltd. (the old Nankai Kishigawa Line) and south of Kainan City, the southern limit of the Wakayama Bus system. The community buses run by local governments vary as to whether the service is available or not, depending on the contractor's service. In terms of the airport limousine bus service, only the Kawanishi Route of Osaka Airport Transport Co., Ltd. is available to use the Surutto Kansai system (PiTaPa is being used for the bus route arriving and departing from Osaka Airport, only being run by Osaka Airport Transport Co., Ltd.). The same service is not yet available for the busses arriving and departing from Kansai International Airport.
On March, 31, 2006 Keihan Uji Kotsu and its subsidiary company, Keihan Uji Kotsu Tanabe, were merged by Keihan Bus and resigned from the Surutto KANSAI Association. This was the first recorded resignation of an association member.
The difference of the background with PASMO
The Passnet being used in the Kanto area is similar to the Surutto KANSAI, which can be used in various private railways in major cities; however, when the PASMO IC card of Passnet came out on the market, the sale of the Passnet was suspended within a year, in January 2008; on the other hand, the PiTaPa, an IC card version of Surutto KANSAI, has been on the market for four years as of 2008, but there is no sign that the sale of the Surutto KANSAI card will be suspended. The fare used on PiTaPa can be paid afterwards and the personal information will be checked before the card is issued, this being the same process as issuing credit cards (there is a different level of review compared to the one with the credit card, although it is not announced); and there is more demand for PASMO since the card can be purchased with no identification and no condition, making it easier for those who don't prefer to use the same system as with credit cards. There is one aspect for Surutto KANSAI Association members, particularly bus companies, that can't commit to introducing IC cards due to business difficulties, given that such difficulties can be more severe than in a metropolitan area.
In Kintetsu Corporation/Kintetsu Railways the vending machines of Surutto KANSAI were installed as requested by consumers; the conductor would sell the ticket on the express train of the Osaka Line (west of Yamato-Yagi Station) and the Kashiwara Line and Kyoto Line, etc.; or Hankyu station staff would organize a small stall to sell the card in the station, in contrast to the sale of Passnet, the sales of which gradually decreased since the introduction of PASMO. (After considering the above situation, the use of the ICOCA card was allowed; however, there were some complaints saying the service wasn't as good as JR trains, that the passengers weren't informed they could go on privately run trains with this card, or that there weren't enough automatic ticketing machines to recharge the card or balance the train fare); incidentally, the Surutto KANSAI cards can be sold cheaper than the actual sales price, (1,000 yen ticket is sold for 990 yen) at ticket sales offices, so passengers can buy them at cheaper prices than those of PiTaPa and ICOCA tickets.
The purpose of using Surutto KANSAI is as follows:
With the introduction of the prepaid ticket, passengers don't need to purchase extra tickets.
The prepaid riding ticket card and prepaid card to buy train tickets are the same.
The common prepaid card, as used to ride trains as well as purchase riding tickets, should be used throughout Surutto KANSAI Association companies.
This way, passengers who travel around the area covered by association member companies will be able to travel on various transport facilities using a prepaid card with the 'Surutto KANSAI' logo, being equivalent to money cards or train tickets.
The stated value of Surutto KANSAI is as follows:
Some companies don't recognize the same stated value on the card. There is no validity date stated on each card.
Special concession card
A Physical Disability Certificate or Rehabilitation Certificate must be presented when purchasing the card.
The round-trip tickets are for sale and can be used within Surutto KANSAI Association affiliates. Some tickets have limited usage areas with respect to the transportation company or travel area.
Surutto KANSAI 3 day ticket (available throughout the year in Japan)
The ticket can be used without limit for three consecutive days, and you can enjoy discounts from certain facilities.
Adult ticket 5,000 yen (1,667 yen per day), child's ticket 2,500 yen
Although the ticket is available for purchase throughout the year, attention should be paid when purchasing or using the ticket since there is a validity date. The coupon ticket can be purchased at travel agencies (excluding the Kinki region and Mie Prefecture) for exchange within the serviced area. There is a place from which you can purchase the ticket directly.
This ticket can be purchased overseas as well; it is popular in Korea, since more tourists are coming to Japan these days. No refund is available.
Surutto KANSAI 2 day ticket (available throughout the year in Japan)
The ticket used to be limited for two days' consecutive use, but the one on sale now can be used for unlimited rides in any two days; also, the special discounts are available from designated facilities.
Adult ticket 3,800 yen (1,900 yen per day), child's ticket 1,900 yen
The same way as the 3 day ticket, this ticket sale is available throughout the year; but please pay attention to the validity period when you purchase or use it.
The ticket can be purchased the same way as the 3 day ticket. (sales available throughout the year in Japan)
No refund is available.
Surutto KANSAI 3 day ticket (limited sale from stations within Kansai area)
Three non-consecutive-day unlimited rides are allowed, and special discounts from designated facilities are available.
Adult ticket 5,000 yen (1,667 yen per day), child's ticket 2,500 yen
The ticket is not available for sale in winter, nor can it be used during limited periods. The ticket can be purchased from the major stations of Surutto KANSAI Association members. Refunds are available under standard conditions within the validity term of the ticket, with some fees applying.
The 2 day and 3 day tickets can be used partly for the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line and Otsu district of Keihan Bus in addition to the current limited use. There is limited use of the community bus run by the local government (which is in fact operated by contractors).
Osaka Unlimited Pass
Unlimited one-day rides for the subway, Nanko Port Town Line and fixed-route bus owned by Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau as well as trains and buses in Osaka City (including portions of Sakai City and Amagasaki City) are allowed. You can enjoy free admission to 25 facilities, along with discounts from other facilities or shops.
2,000 yen (Osaka area, adult only)
The ticket is available for purchase throughout the year. There is an extended area ride ticket (from 2,200 yen) available from Surutto KANSAI Association members. The Osaka KAIYU Ticket comes with admission to Osaka Aquarium KAIYUKAN.
Kobe sightseeing one-day coupon
This coupon comes with one-day unlimited bus and train ticket in Kobe and a 1,000 yen value of the 'Kobegaiyu ticket,' which can be used at tourist facilities in the city.
2,000 yen (adult only)
The sale of this ticket is limited to the spring/summer series (April to September) and the autumn/winter series (October to March). Various other series such as the Hankyu Electric Railway series, Hanshin Electric Railway series, Sanyo Electric Railway series and Shintetsu (Kobe Electric Railway Co., Ltd.) extended series are available.
Sometimes a winter special called the 'Arima Onsen yukemuri ticket' is available, which includes a free admission ticket to 'Arima Onsen Taiko-no-yu.'
Except for the above tickets, Surutto KANSAI Association member companies provide free seasonal tickets for use on the transportation companies of association members.
The Surutto KANSAI prepaid ticket is height 85 mm x width 57.5 mm (Japan Railway Engineers' Association (JREA)) x approx. 0.3 mm thick; made of polyester, it is slightly wider than a telephone card (the same size as a magnetic commuter pass).
The information is recorded magnetically, and it's rewritable with a card reader or an automatic ticket gate (※specified model). The print (thermo-sensitive film breakdown or thermo-sensitive chromogenic method) on the back can be edited the same way.
The card that is sold has a record of the message rate with a certain money value: each time the card is used to buy a train ticket by letting it through the ticket vending machine or ticket gate, the required message rate is deducted and the record is rewritten onto the data.
The last 21 rates used are printed on the back of the card so that it's easy to see how much remains on the card. The recordable information is the name of the transportation company, station used, car number, the purpose of use (the sector being used or to buy the train ticket), date, credit balance, etc. If there is no space on the back to print the details, the card can be replaced with a new one by putting the card into the vending machine, in which case the credit balance will be adjusted (the original card will return to the holder with a double crossed line on the credit balance and stating a zero balance).
On the Nankai Electric Railway, special express tickets for limited express trains can be purchased with the card (excluding part of the ticket office or sales office inside the train).
Currently the card after use (the card is reused by paying additional credit, etc.) is disposable, since there is no other system available to reuse it. The used cards are collected into a special box at each station and are sold to overseas card collectors.
The prepaid card such as Passnet in the Kanto region or the Tran-Pass in the Chubu region cannot be used to go through the ticket gate if the credit balance is less than the base rate; however, the Surutto KANSAI card can be used in the same situation even the balance of the card is 10 yen, in which the balance can be paid after the passenger goes through the ticket gate.
Regarding the above, using Passnet or Tran-Pass, according to Railway Operation Act Clause 29, 1, there is a fine of under 50 yen, in fact more than 10,000 yen, less than 20,000 yen to the passenger who gets onto the train without having a sufficient ticket whose value is more than the base rate, and without letting train staff know; however, Surutto KANSAI is an exception and allows this, since their cards (including those issued by other member companies, including J-Thru of JR West) are permitted as an exception by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (it is considered that the passengers have informed the railway staff). This is very convenient for the passengers, since they can ride on the train even if they don't have enough credit on the cards, especially when there is no time to buy tickets when the train is already at the platform (rushing onto the train is dangerous, so it is not recommended). This way, in either system of Kanto or Kansai, since it isn't helping people obtain an illegal ride, the Kansai business-style card such as Surutto KANSAI or J-Thru card is ideal from the user's point of view.
Installation businesses and the list of cards issued
The installation date is the date when the Surutto KANSAI prepaid card is usable on certain transportation company routes. The card can be used before the installation date for a certain transportation company or route but only as a three-day ticket, etc.
The shortened Kanji code is printed as a reference as the company name of the station where the passenger has boarded.
The shortened English code is printed as a reference to the company name of the station where the passenger disembarks. The symbol ― means there is no setup.
When getting onto the train or using a ticket vending machine or exit-fare machine, the first three letters of the station are printed on the card followed by an abbreviated kanji company code, while when getting off the first two letters of the station are printed, followed by an abbreviated English company code.
When using buses the maximum of four numeric digits or characters (such as English letters) are printed on the card, followed by the company code.
Please refer to the section on PiTaPa for the details of installation businesses and routes of the 'PiTaPa' IC card.
※1 Osaka Port Transportation System
The route was transferred to Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau on July 1, 2005.
※2 Nankai Electric Railway
The service wasn't available for the Kishigawa Line of Wakayama Electric Railway (this line was assigned to Wakayama Electric Railway on April 1, 2006).
※3 Keihan Electric Railway
It can't be used on the Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line (PiTaPa can be used).
※4 Kintetsu Corporation/Kintetsu Railways
The service is available west of Aoyamacho Station (available for Kintetsu Tawaramoto Line, Kintesu Domyoji Line and the section between Ichio Station and Yoshino Station (Nara Prefecture) of the Kintetsu Yoshino Line), excluding cable cars. There are some stations outside the service area where passengers can purchase tickets using Surutto KANSAI cards (the PiTaPa card can be used on one part of the Shima Line and other lines, excluding the Kintetsu Utsube, Kintetsu Hachioji and Kintetsu Shima lines). The service wasn't available for the Iga Line, Iga Railway, located in the west of Aoyamacho (the operation of the same line was relegated to Iga Railway on October 1, 2007).
※5 Keifuku Electric Railroad Co., Ltd. (Randen)
The card only has printing that can be used at the ticketing gate. The print will be the bus-style print of 'Keifuku Electric Railway' as applied by the card reader on the train.
※6 Hieizan Railway (Hieizan Sakamoto Cable Car)
The card will be printed as 'Hieizan' with bus-style print by the card reader at the station ticketing gate.
※7 Eizan Electric Railway
The print applied by the card reader in the train will still have railway-style print.
※1 Bus operated by Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau
The print to indicate use of a red bus will be 'Daiko Bus.'
※2 Osaka Airport Transportation
It is only available on the Kawanishi Line (but PiTaPa can be used except for routes connecting to Kansai International Airport).
※3 Nankai Wing Bus Nanbu, Wakayama Bus Naga
The card can't be used on the Tarui-Iwade route.
※4 Keihan Bus
The card can't be used within the Otsu district and for community bus (however, a three-day ticket can be used in the Otsu district).
※5 Keihan Uji Kotsu, Keihan Uji Kotsu Tanabe
On April 1, 2006 the company was merged by Keihan Bus.
※6 Kobe City Transportation Promotion Co., Ltd.
The card can only be used on the Yamanote Route.
The card can't be used on the Ritsumeikan-daigaku (university) Route (BKC).
The card for both above companies can't be used on an express bus or a regular tour bus. The card can be used for the Nankai bus (night express bus (Nankai bus)) (however, the three-day ticket can't be used).
The history of Kintetsu Corporation/Kintetsu Railways (thereafter called Kintetsu) joining Surutto KANSAI.
Kintetsu didn't join the association until later, due to the following background:
It would have been too costly to introduce the stored fare system, and there wasn't enough return by collecting money afterwards.
An enormous investment would be needed for automatic ticket checker/automatic ticket gates.
Also, the investment in automatic ticket machine/automatic ticket vending machines would have been too costly.
Kintetsu had to consider modifying its automatic ticket machine since the standard of Surutto KANSAI card was different from its own prepaid card, apart from the size, that being the 'Pearl Card,' which had previously been introduced by Kintetsu Railways.
Kintetsu shared many stations with JR.
Stations delegated to JR: Kashiwabara Station (Osaka Prefecture), Yoshinoguchi Station, Iga Ueno Station (the previously used name, currently run by Iga Railway)
No-latch connection (the stations from which passengers can exit without going through the ticketing gate) (in addition to the above): Sakurai Station (Nara Prefecture) (previous), Kuwana Station, Tsu Station, Matsuzaka Station, Ise-shi Station
Connected ticketing gate: Tsuruhashi Station, Kyoto Station (previous)
There was no big necessity for Kintetsu to introduce the system.
Kintetsu Railways didn't have many competitive routes against JR West compared to other private railway companies like Hankyu and Nankai Railway, which were already competing against JR.
Because J-Thru was introduced jointly, there were some issues about sharing the same stations, as mentioned above.
Kintetsu didn't expect much return from the increase of passengers using the stored fare system after investing money.
Given the above background, Kintetsu wasn't very eager to introduce the stored fare system.
On the other hand, it wasn't convenient for Surutto KANSAI to have Kintetsu's enormous route. In another words, it was a great burden for Surutto KANSAI to add not only the data of more than 300 stations into the system but also to deal with Kintetsu's complicated fare system. One reason for not joining in is that there was a requirement of setting up automatic ticket machines at all stations.
In addition to the above, since the Kintetsu card had some restrictions, such as not being allowed to go on a long round trip with a base-fare ticket, two-day validity of long-distance tickets and prohibition from getting off on the way and so on, all of which were obstacles to the introduction of a stored fare system.
However, the situation changed as follows: Kintetsu decided to go ahead with the introduction of the stored fare system.
After the new system was developed to prevent the illegal use of commuter passes, more money was collected by using the automatic ticket gate.
The problem was solved at the connecting gate to the JR lines at Tsuruhashi Station after introducing the automatic ticket gate, which takes two tickets at the same time.
The amount of the investment needed for an automatic ticket gate decreased due to the lack of demand for their use after the decline in passengers.
Subsequently, Kintetsu finally joined the association as it discontinued the restriction of setting a certain route (except for Kintetsu Tawara Main Line) for each ticket, two-day validity for long-distance tickets and the stopover system; concurrently, Surutto KANSAI abolished the condition of having automatic ticket machines at all stations.