Kyoto Launches Express Buses to Combat Overtourism

The ancient Japanese city of Kyoto is taking a novel approach to address the mounting problem of overtourism by introducing special express bus routes just for visitors. The new “Tourism Express Bus” service, which launched on June 1st, aims to alleviate overcrowding on Kyoto’s public transportation system caused by the influx of tourists to the popular destination.

In recent years, Kyoto has struggled with the negative impacts of overtourism as throngs of travelers pack into the city’s narrow streets, temples, shrines and buses. While tourism is vital for Kyoto’s economy, the sheer numbers have become difficult to manage, diminishing the quality of life for residents. Standard city buses have become overwhelmed, with locals sometimes unable to board due to the presence of sightseers.

The new express routes were created by the Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau specifically with tourists in mind. Two color-coded lines, the EX100 and EX101, will connect Kyoto Station with top attractions like Kiyomizudera Temple, Gion geisha district, Heian Shrine, and the famous Silver Pavilion at Ginkakuji.

The express buses offer some key advantages to entice visitors away from the crowded local buses. For one, they make fewer stops, allowing for shorter travel times to the major sites.

The ride from Kyoto Station to Ginkakuji, for example, is cut nearly in half from 44 minutes to just 24 minutes. Secondly, the express routes are valid for use with Kyoto’s popular 1-day unlimited bus/subway pass.

However, the trade-off is that the Tourism Express Bus has a higher fare than the normal buses – 500 yen ($3.35) for adults versus 230 yen on regular routes. This price differential seems designed to create separate transit options for tourists and residents.

While the new express service may not eliminate overtourism entirely, it represents a thoughtful attempt by Kyoto to better manage visitor flows through the city. By providing an appealing alternative bus system geared specifically towards sightseers, it allows locals to more easily navigate their own public transportation again.

As global tourism continues growing, other impacted destinations may look to Kyoto’s Tourism Express Bus as a potential model for sustainable visitor management. Finding ways to spread out crowds and minimize disruptions to residents’ daily lives, while still facilitating tourism, will likely become an increasing priority for popular cities worldwide.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *