Largest expressway bus terminal to open in Shinjuku

Construction is under way for a terminal (centre) for expressway buses in front of the JR Shinjuku Station South Exit (lower left).
PHOTO: The Yomiuri Shimbun

Good news for people who use long-distance buses from JR Shinjuku Station. Nineteen expressway bus stations scattered around the facility will be unified into one traffic terminal starting next spring.

The new terminal will be located in front of Shinjuku Station's South Exit. The estimated 1,600 bus arrivals and departures daily would make it the largest bus terminal in Japan.

Passengers will benefit from smooth transfers from trains, and the terminal is expected to ease traffic jams around the station.

The facility and JR Shinjuku Station's South Exit will be separated by the National Highway Route 20, known as Koshu Kaido. The plan for the terminal is part of a redevelopment project jointly conducted by the government and East Japan Railway Co.

The terminal building will be established in a space above the railways. The government has built an about 1.5-hectare wide foundation above the JR Yamanote and Chuo lines, and the first floor will accommodate the current platforms of JR Shinjuku Station, with ticket barriers and other facilities located on the second floor.

Platforms for taxis and buses will be located on the third and fourth floors. The terminal is scheduled to open around March or April.

About 3.4 million passengers use Shinjuku Station every day, the highest number of any station in the country. Currently, 19 expressway bus stations are dispersed around the station, with 117 operators connecting Shinjuku to 39 prefectures including Aomori and Fukuoka. In total, there are 1,625 bus arrivals and departures every day.

Many people are attracted to the expressway bus fares, which are cheaper than those of the Shinkansen bullet trains. For example, some tickets for bus services to Osaka are available at about ¥4,000 (S$46.40).

However, because bus companies have their own stations, passengers have complained that it is difficult to reach them from Shinjuku Station. There have also been complaints about difficulties in transferring from other transportation systems.

It takes more than 15 minutes by foot to reach the furthest bus station, which is located near Shinjuku Central Park.

As a solution, 15 bus stops will be located at the planned bus terminal. A space where a maximum of 11 buses can wait will also be included. Passengers will be able to board the buses from the fourth floor of the building.

According to the Tokyo National Highway Office of the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, around 40,000 to 50,000 people are expected to use the bus terminal each day.

The third floor will mainly be used by taxis and feature a taxi pool for 30 vehicles.

The traffic terminal will be part of a 32-floor multipurpose building named JR Shinjuku Miraina Tower. The complex is under construction by JR East and is scheduled to be completed in March.

The building will also accommodate commercial facilities, a cultural hall and business offices. It is expected to become a new Shinjuku landmark and dramatically change the flow of people from the station.

Hideaki Kashima, a project execution officer at the Tokyo National Highway Office's Planning Section, said, "I believe the emergence of an express bus station easily accessible to everyone [in Shinjuku] will lead to an increase in foreign visitors using the bus services."