Buy two teiki and save money, legal and perfect for budget-conscious salarymen

(Updated with note; corrected)

A lot of new stuff going on in my life prevents me from posting much, but I felt I should weigh in with this tip for fellow commuters in Japan:

Business weekly Shukan Diamond President has an article that explains how you could potentially save around 9,000 yen a year by buying two commuter passes  — one that goes most of the way, and another that covers the rest of the ground. Because of the oddities of Japan’s train pricing system, your commuter pass might go up or down if you split your commute into two separate passes.

But it’s not as simple as buying two train passes along the same route. If you do that, generally you’ll have to either get off and on again halfway through your commute, or explain to the station attendant every time you get off the train. Not practical.

But one successful example they give is this: If you live in Omiya and commute to Tokyo Omori station, you could save 9,060 yen a year by buying one pass from Omiya to Ochanomizu, and the second from Ochanomizu to Tokyo Akihabara to Omori. This will let you ride all the way to Tokyo Omori (and let you stop at Ochanomizu at no charge if you want).

As you can see, it can get kind of complicated. To help sort things out, someone has developed an application that determines the most advantageous route for any given individual. Sadly, it’s already gone viral and is thus unavailable.Those who don’t want to wait for them to add server space and Google ads can try experimenting with Yahoo’s train route finder in the meantime (if you’re desperate, try waiting until late late at night when most others are sleeping. If you do, open a mirror site for the rest of us!).

The article states that this practice is hardly new and has been used by train-savvy salarymen for some time now.When some of Tokyo’s planned new routes come online it should create whole new levels of complexity to exploit.

(Diamond article found on Yahoo Japan front page)

Note: This practice is not the same as a train scam known as kiseru in which the rider has a ticket for the beginning and end of the trip but skips out on the rest of the fare.

10 thoughts on “Buy two teiki and save money, legal and perfect for budget-conscious salarymen”

  1. I think you’ve gotten the example wrong…

    Isn’t the article describing an example of getting from Omiya to Omori? Ideally the rider would just get two teiki, one for “Omiya-Akihabara” and “Akihabara-Omori”. But because the “2-teiki-in-1” Suica system won’t let him do that, he makes the first teiki “Omiya-Ochanomizu,” which costs the same. That way you can load these two teiki onto one Suica, with the added benefit of getting off at Ochanomizu to browse the bookshops.

  2. Yeah, this is known as joshaken bunkatsu and is fairly well known among railroad otaku.

    It even works for regular tickets. Note that because private railways tend to be so short, this technique usually only works on JR lines. There are a whole lot of restrictions and special areas where this is most effective (like where JR and private lines compete), so unless you’re a real cheapskate or are going a very long distance on regular trains on regular tickets, there’s not much point to actually using this on a regular basis.

  3. Isn’t the article describing an example of getting from Omiya to Omori? Ideally the rider would just get two teiki, one for “Omiya-Akihabara” and “Akihabara-Omori”.

    It describes both bunkatsu and nikukan tickets. Bunkatsu allows you to save money, and because of how fares are set (i.e. 0-10 km is one fare, 11-20 km is another, etc.) you can extend one or both passes to nearby stations along the route, thereby getting free travel to that station since it’s part of your pass.

  4. Ah, I see what the author is talking about. By changing the route of the pass (from OmoriOmiya via the Keihin Tohoku Line to Omori->Akihabara->Ochanomizu->Akihabara->Omiya via the KT/Yamanote and Sobu lines) he saves money *and* can travel using a single card, thus getting both benefits without the downside of needing to re-enter the station.

    There’s also an illicit way to do something similar: have your pass go via a station that you don’t pass through routinely. For example, on the Tokyu lines: Musashikosugi->Jiyugaoka->Ookayama->Meguro — you can visit Jiyugaoka after work or on the weekends but just take the Meguro line straight to Meguro. This involves passing through Okusawa, which is technically kiseru josha.

  5. I agree with Joe’s sentiments, only because if one is looking to make the piss-putrid commute from Omiya to Omori any more complicated, only to save 755 yen a month (doesn’t sound so good anymore does it?), then one might as well pinch all the other pennies in life. Tether the PC to the smartphone and get rid of the internet; buy the groceries at the supermarket advertised in Shutsubotsu! Ad-machikku Tengoku on Sunday mornings; clip out coupons; give blood weekly, etc.

    To the article’s credit, getting the word out about nikukan teikiken is exemplary, although personally I would greatly appreciate an article on the best way to game PASMO for those of us who use both JR and other lines. I am doing “bunkatsu” by default, and then extending the JR pass so that I can go one more station to a major shopping center/train junction. It costs less than the company is reimbursing me for.

    As for “khsier” josha, rabuho are you sure that the scheme you propose is kiseru, or even illicit? I mean, you will pay the same amount (190 yen; 38,940 yen for 6m) to Tokyu whether you claim you go through Ookayama or Okusawa, and that is probably why they don’t have kaisatsu (do they?). No kaisatsu = no chance of chukan musatsu = no kiseru, is my understanding.

    Anyhow, my impression of kiseru josha is that its heyday is long gone. Most punks who try and grift the train companies will have some sob story of how they lost their ticket, or they just run the gate. In any event, I am constantly told that through the wonders of IC technology, the train companies have smartened up to the arbitrage opportunities of yesteryear.

    Now what would be “illicit” is to tell your company that you have to use JR as part of the commute to get from Musashikosugi to Meguro. JR inclusive teiki is 89,490 yen for 6m while the trip using only Tokyu lines will cost 38,940 yen. That’s highway robbery, no pun intended. Some companies require a copy of the commuter pass in order to process the reimbursement claim. Others, like my current one, base the reimbursement on a simple application.

  6. rabuho are you sure that the scheme you propose is kiseru, or even illicit?

    Technically, since I’m traveling over a section of track that my teiki does not cover, I could be charged the difference (and maybe a penalty) if a fare inspector stopped me. (Obviously if I got off at Okusawa I would pay the regular fare between Denenchofu/Ookayama and Okusawa as usual).

    But since I’ve never seen a fare inspector, the section is so short, and the fare is the same, I agree with you that it’s not much of an issue.

Comments are closed.