Yesterday marked a day I was very much looking forward to: the day Mito got the IC card system.
Up until now riding the bus has been somewhat of a challenge as you always needed exact change. For those of you fellow readers who yet have to come to Japan: In most places you enter the bus and take a ticket. When you get off you drop the ticket and the amount that is displayed on screen into a slot next to the driver. In some other places you have fixed fares, like Kyoto, where you don’t need a ticket. Or in like in Tokyo when you pay when you enter the bus. I was always surprised how well this system works despite the lack of convenience.
In all major cities you can usually pay your fare with an IC card, which is just a card that is charged with money and the transaction is basically without cash. Popular cards are the Suica or Pasmo, but there are regional differences. They must often work everywhere and everywhere the same. If you ever make the trip over the pond, I highly recommend getting one. In major cities you can ride trains and busses with it. If you take the local train from Mito to Tokyo, the Suica is just enough.
While everyone was hoping that Mito gets the nationwide system to the busses, it feel a bit short of that. Instead they introduced their own system called 「いばっピ」 (Ibappi). It provides the same functionality, it is just not compatible to the nationwide system. As a bonus on the convenience you get a 10% discount on every trip.
Obviously I got it the first day – I am actually pretty lazy – and have been using it already twice. I really like it. You don’t have to worry about change and losing your ticket, you simply touch the device at the entrance and touch it again at the exit and be done with it.
You might ask yourself now, where do I get the magical card. At Mito station both entrance right at the corner of the street behind bus stop number seven is the Ibaco office. There is also a charge station that sells these cards. So far I don’t know where else you can get it. The first issue costs 2000¥ including a refundable 500¥ fee. After that you can simply charge it when leaving the bus. I have yet to try this, but I have also yet have to experience a case where an employee tells you something that does not work. So it’s going to work.
So next time you go to the station, pick one up and start saving instantly.