Fukushima firm to begin new bus services covering Iwaki, Tomioka in April

Shin Joban Kotsu Corp. (Joko), a transport company based in Iwaki city, Fukushima Prefecture, concluded an agreement with the Tomioka town office on Oct. 26 to operate two new route bus services beginning on April 1 next year. One service will cover a route between Iwaki and Tomioka, and the other will involve bus runs on a route circling reconstruction-related facilities within the town, which has been wholly evacuated since the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. The agreement is based on the town’s request for Joko to start regular bus operations in preparation for permanent returns of evacuated residents which Tomioka is seeking to launch in April 2017. The company applied to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry’s Tohoku District Transport Bureau on Oct. 21 for approval to open the new routes after discussing ways of ensuring the safety of passengers and employees, among other things. Approval is expected in a few months. Bus runs will be operated for six days per week, from Monday to Saturday, on both routes. The 41.2-kilometer Iwaki-Tomioka route will stretch from East Japan Railway Co.’s Iwaki to Tomioka stations via Route 6, with two round-trip runs operated a day. The other route will cover a 6.1-km circular stretch, starting from Tomioka Station and continuing through public housing for evacuees, the town office, the Tomioka Post Office and a municipal medical clinic, with six runs operated daily. A ceremony marking the conclusion of the agreement was held at Joko’s head office in Iwaki. Two copies of the accord were signed, sealed and exchanged by Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto and Joko managing director Koichi Takahagi . (Translated by Kyodo News)