Suica 2 in 1 Region Affiliate Cards

JR East Suica 2 in 1 region affiliate card announcements are coming regularly and we should hear more as fiscal year 2021 gets underway (April 2021~March 2022). Instead of separate posts I’m listing all cards here and will update the table as new cards are announced.

2 in 1 Region Card List
As of March 23, 2021, 8 new cards serving 16 regional transit companies have been announced.

UtsunomiyaBus & Light Rail2019-7-9totraMarch 21 2021 (Bus)
March 2022 (LRT)
Kanto Transportation
JR Bus Kanto
Utsunomiya Light Rail
Iwate PrefectureBus2020-1-16Iwate Green PassMarch 27 2021Iwate Kotsu Co. Ltd.
Iwate PrefectureBus2020-10-20IGUCAMarch 2022Northern Iwate Transportation
Hachinohe CityBus2020-10-21HACHIKAMarch 2022Northern Iwate Transportation
Hachinohe City Bus
Aomori CityBus2020-11-19AOPASSMarch 2022Aomori City Bus
Akita CityBus2020-11-30AkiCaMarch 2022Akita Chuo Kotsu Co. Ltd.
Yamagata CityBus2021-3-9TBAMarch 2022Yamako-Bus Co. Ltd
Shonai Kotsu Co. Ltd
GunmaBus2021-3-18nolbéMarch 2022Joshin-Dentetsu
Gunma Chuo Bus
Nippon Chuo Bus
Gunma Bus
Yajima Taxi
Nagai Bus

From the announcements so far the important details are:

  • Local Branding: Suica 2 in 1 region cards have their own branding, region commuter passes and reward transit points. I suspect local reward points can be exchanged with JRE POINT in the future but so far there is no region app. There will likely be special services and discounts for local area residents linked to Ny Number Card as well.
  • Suica benefits: Though they have different branding, local region 2 in 1 cards are Suica cards with all the Suica infrastructure benefits including Mobile Suica, Shinkansen eTickets, nationwide Transit IC compatibility, eMoney, etc. This means they automatically plug into the wider transit and payments network.
  • Contactless: eliminating paper tickets and hard cash in areas without Transit IC cards in the COVID era is a good thing though credit card companies are marketing the hell out of it too. More on the subject in a this post.
  • Local and national government transit support subsidies for rural areas will be used to help launch cards. Yamagata prefecture for example will provide the equivalent of 5.2 million USD for a region card that will cover all public transit for the prefecture.

Suica 2 in 1 is central technology of JR East MaaS strategy, it offers the benefits of Suica infrastructure to link local transit agencies within the JR East area who don’t have the resources to launch or maintain their own transit IC card system. Plugging orphaned regions into the wider transit network and leveraging the established infrastructure is the sensible thing to do and wish JR East had done it years ago. We should see more announcements in the coming months and Japanese press coverage as the first services launch in March 2021.

All 2 in 1 Region Card announcements so far have been for new cards. The next and bigger challenge for JR East will be incorporating existing and important region transit cards inside the JR East transit region such Niigata Kotsu Ryuto and Sendai City Transportation Bureau icsca.

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