2022 is a big year for JR East Suica 2 in 1 region affiliate transit cards with announcements and launches coming regularly. Instead of separate posts I’ll continually update this page with new information.
2 in 1 Region Affiliate List
As of 2022-03-12, 10 cards serving 19 regional affiliate transit companies have been announced and/or launched:
|Region||Type||JR East Announcement||Card Name||Service Launch||Region Affiliates|
JR Bus Kanto
Utsunomiya Light Rail
|Iwate Prefecture||Bus||2020-1-16||Iwate Green Pass||2021-03-27||Iwate Kotsu Co. Ltd.|
|Iwate Prefecture||Bus||2020-10-20||iGUCA||2022-02-19||Northern Iwate Transportation|
|Hachinohe City||Bus||2020-10-21||HACHICA||2022-02-26||Northern Iwate Transportation|
Hachinohe City Bus
|Aomori City||Bus||2020-11-19||AOPASS||2022-03-05||Aomori City Bus|
Gunma Chuo Bus
Nippon Chuo Bus
|Akita||Bus||2021-11-24||Shuhoku Orange Pass||2022-03-12||Shuhoku Bus|
|Akita City||Bus||2020-11-30||AkiCA||2022-03-26||Akita Chuo Kotsu Co. Ltd.|
|Yamagata City||Bus||2021-03-09||cherica||2022-05-14||Yamako-Bus Co. Ltd|
Shonai Kotsu Co. Ltd
|Aomori||Bus||2021-11-17||Towada SkyBlue Pass||2022-04-29||Towada Kankō Dentetsu|
The important card features are:
- 2 in 1 Commuter Passes: JR East Suica commuter plan & region affiliate operator commuter plan
- 2 in 1 Points: JRE POINT & region affiliate transit points
- Region affiliate exclusive services: special discount fares/subsidies/points for disabled users and elderly, as well as disability fare Suica 2 in 1 cards (a first for Suica also coming to Tokyo area Suica users in October 2022)
…all in one 2 in 1 Suica card, an integral part of the JR East MaaS strategy:
- Local branded MaaS: Suica 2 in 1 region affiliate cards have their own branding, region commuter passes and reward transit points that are managed by the affiliate transportation company or local government operator. In addition to earning regular JRE POINT, local transit points are automatically added and used for transit in the region affiliate area. There will be special services and discounts for local area residents linked to Ny Number Card in the future as part of the JR East local region MaaS program.
- Suica benefits: Though they have different branding, local region 2 in 1 cards are Suica cards with all the Suica infrastructure benefits including Shinkansen eTickets, nationwide Transit IC compatibility, eMoney, JRE POINT, etc. This means they automatically plug into the wider transit and payments network for seamless transit locally and nationally. The extended Suica coverage means that Suica and Transit IC card users can travel in these newly added areas.
- Contactless: eliminating paper tickets and hard cash in areas without Transit IC cards in the COVID era is a good thing, VISA Touch is marketing the hell out of it too. More on the subject here.
- Local and national government transit support subsidies for rural areas will be used to help launch cards and promote local transit services. 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. Yamagata Suica infrastructure subsidy details explained here.
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. I wish JR East had done it years ago. We will see more announcements in the coming months and Japanese press coverage as the bulk of the new card services launch in February~May 2022.
All 2 in 1 Region Card announcements to date have been for new cards. The bigger challenge for JR East will be incorporating existing and important region transit cards inside the JR East MaaS transit region such Niigata Kotsu Ryuto and Sendai City Transportation Bureau icsca that help reduce costs and extend benefits for everybody.