JR East and Sony Creating ‘Super Suica’ Card for All Japan

Via Ata Distance:

JR East and Sony announced co-development of a ‘national’ super Suica card that will replace local Japanese transit card variations such as ICOCA, TOICA, SUGOCA, Kitaca, PASMO, manaca, Nimoca, Hayaken and others into a single card that does it all. JR East and Sony plan to have the card in circulation starting April 2021. Too late for the 2020 Summer Tokyo Olympics party certainly, but great news for transit customers nationwide nevertheless. The clouds of uncertainty have parted, the transit platform future shines bright.

Japanese transit cards are already compatible with each other for transit and e-money purchases but commuter passes and point systems are still tied to local transit cards. You can use Apple Pay Suica in Nagoya and Osaka, but you can’t add a Suica Commuter Plan for an area outside of the JR East rail network. Also it is difficult if not impossible for smaller transit companies to host local transit cards on mobile. The new super Suica card will solve these problems and reduce costs for everybody. I suspect the current ¥20,000 Suica limit will also be raised to ¥40,000 or more for Japan-wide ‘Touch and Go Shinkansen’ service.

The new card will likely resemble the recently released Mizuho Suica, a basic super Suica card with localized branding, commuter plans and point systems. The Mobile Suica cloud infrastructure is already in place so everything will be hosted on that.

It will be great to have a single Apple Pay ‘Super Suica’ card that can do it all, from Shinkansen to commuter plans and point systems nationwide. I don’t know about you but I can hardly wait.

More good news for Japanese transit.

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The First Shinkansen

The First Shinkansen:

 

I am a sucker for vintage industry promotion films, the kind of thing the third grade home room teacher would show as a treat on a dull Thursday afternoon. The soundtrack was warped, the film was scratched and patched and sometimes got stuck, but it was all fun.

Japanese rail fans love to post vintage photos and I came across this tweet with a fascinating video of the very first Shinkansen test car being pushed by a steam engine to the test site. It’s easy to forget how important the Shinkansen project was to Japan leading up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Even if you do not understand Japanese you can sense the importance of it all from the film clip: scrubbed technicians performing their jobs, testing the infrastructure and of course watching that first Shinkansen train whoosh past at full speed.

It’s hard to believe that the Shinkansen project almost didn’t happen. I wonder how happy the project team felt when the first Shinkansen whooshed by. It must have been a great day. The future arrived at 250 km/h.

(Via Ata Distance)

The tweet Joel includes has the video of the train. I love this stuff.