JENESYS 2018, Shinkansen: Secret Recipe to Building A Holistic Transportation System


SHINJUKU, JAPAN: The last day in Tokyo was spent visiting the Traffic Bureau in the Metropolitan Police Department in Minato-ku Tokyo, Japan to find out the secret recipe as to how the Japanese ensure the safety of their road users and public transport users alike.


Picture courtesy of Metropolitan Police Department brochure


Traffic Bureau in the Metropolitan Police Department

The traffic control center collects and analyzes traffic information as a solution to solve traffic jams and ease road congestion.


The source of traffic information is comprehensive as it collects data from vehicle detectors, cctv camera, helicopter, patrol car and police motorcycle. The information would then be exchanged with the prefectural traffic control centres for easier control of the traffic signals in their respective areas to be disseminated to the public via the traffic information board, mobile phone application, radio broadcast and car navigation system.


Image courtesy of Metropolitan Police Department brochure


Every station has its own broadcasting studio that announces live traffic update via radio channels such as NHK. This way they constantly keep the public informed on which route to avoid and what other route options are available.


The traffic control centers are also responsible of traffic pollution prevention. You see the relief of traffic congestion decreases the number of stops and the amount of exhaust gas and noise by road vehicles. It contributes to the establishment of human friendly environment which is the focus of all government agencies in Japan. In a way it also helps saving energy and environmental conservation as smooth traffic flows makes travel time and fuel consumption less, which improves and enhance energy efficiency.


Picture courtesy of Metropolitan Police Department brochure


The traffic control center operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year non-stop to ensure traffic in all the prefectures in Japan run smoothly. Although fully computerized, the constant updates and report is still written in a logbook by the Control Operators’ Desk and is put on the display board in real time. The display in the traffic control center is consist of 140 units of 50’ inch TV which displays the blueprint of the whole city and live feed from CCTV surveillance from all over Japan in smaller screens right below the blue prints.


Information such as road works, construction, accidents and road closure are all color coded and displayed on screen so the traffic control center can inform the public and advise them to reroute around these areas to avoid traffic jam and congestion. Since road works and constructions are temporary, an information display car or a police patrol will be dispatched few hundred meters from the site to ensure public road users are informed of it.


After being in awe of the harmonious synchronization done in the traffic control center in the Metropolitan police department, we head back to our hotel via the Yurikamome line. I tried purchasing the ticket via the automated ticketing machine, the system was so user friendly purchasing the ticket was a breeze! 


Fully automated ticketing machine at the Takeshiba station


Yurikamome Line – Takeshiba station, our train arrived exactly at 15:59


Yurikamome line is fully computerized and the only train without a conductor in Japan. Even without a conductor, the train is still punctual and it still stops at the station door accurately. It operates by sending signals to the train stations every time it passes a signal pole along the train tracks and it is programmed to calculate the distance to the approaching station and reduce speed accordingly before it comes to a stop. The train tracks are built concurrently with the highway so the road vehicles and the Yurikamome line move side by side. Here’s a video on board the Yurikamome line. The view is so breathtaking. 


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