PASMO is released!
PASMO service has just started. It is a rechargeable magnetic (one touch) smart card train pass that works for all trains (JR and private), and buses. A similar card existed for JR only called SUICA, while the private lines and subways used a disposable card called PASSNET. This card you throw away when the debits have been used. And then the bus system also had a similar disposable card only for buses. So in the Tokyo area you had to carry around 3 cards all the time to use various transportation services.
I will tell the advantages and disadvantages of this PASMO.
advantages : I think these are main advantages.
We can do “touch and go” like SUICA in private, subway, bus too.
(This is nice! I must alway be nervous to suceed in putting such a thin card into a thin slot.)
We can use only one card, no need to have one for each line.
(This is nice too! because I have SUICA, train pass, PASSNET and bus card. If I don’t have them all, I need to buy ticket everytime, I can’t be bothered.)
When I go throgh the exit, if my remaining PASMO credits are not enough, my PASMO will be recharged automatically from my credit card (pre-registration is necessary)
Some private company will give you points for your use of PASMO. If you accumulate a certain number of points, you will be given various advantages. (I like this too. I use Odakyo, I can collect points and use them in stores, department stores and PASMO too )
And there were many inconveniences relating to these older systems as well. The transfer from a PASSNET line to a SUICA (such as in Shinjuku) can be very confusing for some people and it holds up the line. Basically you have to first put your PASSNET through the reader slot, and then swipe your SUICA across the magnetic pad. Many people, especially old people, people not from Tokyo, and some foreigners had troubles with this. Also, if your SUICA ran out before you could exit, you could recharge it inside the station before exiting, but for PASSNET, if your card runs out, there is usually no way to get another card inside the station, and exit (some stations sell PASSNET cards at their kiosks). So you had to line up in a long line at the adjustment machine and pay your total fare, then buy a new PASSNET once you’ve exited.
So although these systems (SUICA, PASSNET, and all Kanto area bus card) were a great improvement over the old system of every train line using different ticket systems, they still had inconveniences. The great thing about PASMO is that it combines all these together. We can use PASSMO on every major train (including JR, private, and subway) and bus. And after the introduction of PASMO, we can also use SUICA anywhere the PASMO card is accepted.
disadvantages : I have to be careful too.
You must be charged more than you used.
If you started at A station of X line, then transfered through Z line in the middle without going through exit, then go back to the final destination is B station in X line, then you will be charged a full A to B of X line. JR tends to be more expensive than private and lines, so this is a problem for many people. (めんどくさい）
Auto charge service won’t be available for bus, so bus user need to be careful.
You can not carry both a SUICA and a PASMO in the same pass case together (actually you don’t need it), if you do it, you got error. You need to choose Penguin or Robot. :-p
If you have kids, PASMO would be inconvenient because PASMO is available for only one person.
The name “PASMO” is a kind of funny commbination of the English word “pass” and the Japanese word “mo” (meaning “also”). The logo on the card has a picture of a train and then the word “mo”, the a picture of a bus and the word “mo”, then finally the word pasmo. So we can kind of get a feeling of its “all inclusiveness” from the name. Bus mo, train mo, pasmo. :-)