Riding 272km on 42km ICOCA fare

The ICOCA IC fare region extensions that went into effect March 13 have opened up some interesting transit possibilities. ICOCA has a 200km travel limit but the exit gate fare is calculated by the shortest route possible. YouTuber yasu who specializes in convoluted transit IC travel, posted a video that details his very long transit from Kyoto to Osaka in three sections as a single trip using Apple Pay Suica.

Section 1: Kyoto to Wadayama via Fukuchiyama (Sanin and Fukuchiyama lines)

Section 2: Wadayama to Himeji on the Bantan line

Section 3: Himeji to Osaka on the Sanyo line

This is a 272.6km trip that costs ¥3,410 but ICOCA only charges the shortest possible distance of 42.8km that costs ¥570 when exiting the Osaka station gate. Yasu stayed ‘inside the gate’ the whole journey but there is an in-station gate point at Himeji station between the Bantan and Sanyo lines. Logically this is where the ICOCA system could calculate a fare but JR West doesn’t do so.

Yasu points out that this ‘over the limit’ travel is covered in section 16 of the ICOCA terms and conditions and his trip is not breaking the rules. He contacted JR West before the trip and they confirmed this is possible and not breaking the rules, but this kind of loophole can disappear in the wink of an ICOCA system update.

It’s a 40 minute video but has great scenery and JNR era diesel-electrics still in service on the Bantan line with distinctive traction motor sounds, sights and sounds that are disappearing fast, captured like an O. Winton Link recording. The food at Himeji station also looks delicious. If I was still living in the Kansai, I’d gladly spend a day traveling this route on a single ¥570 Apple Pay Suica fare. It would be a fun journey.