Suica App EX Reservation

Chi-san finally rides the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Okayama with just Apple Pay Suica on Apple WatchMy smartEX quick review explained the differences between smartEX and EXReservation services and noted:

An interesting point is that JR Central has spent extra time and resources working with JR East to make EX interoperable with Apple Pay Suica and Suica App. This is strange when you consider that neither JR Central’s own transit card TOICA, nor JR West’s ICOCA have a Mobile Suica-like smartphone version ready to deploy on Apple Pay.

EXPress Reservation-Suica App chartI breezed past the October 23 Suica App update that added Apple Pay Suica – EX Reservation interoperability and assumed it was the same EX-IC + Transit IC Card arrangement used by JR Central EX users .

That was a mistake. I should have paid more attention because there were far too many Japanese twitter users celebrating the arrival of Apple Pay Suica – EX Reservation interoperability. Then I stumbled across an excellent post on Another Dimension by Chi.

Chi waited 10 years for the October 23 Apple Pay Suica – EX interoperability startup and his post outlines the long winding road up to his maiden Okayama ~ Tokyo Shinkansen trip with just Apple Pay Suica. Without a EX-IC card. That is what Apple Pay Suica users were all excited about, parity with Android Mobile Suica – EX Reservation interoperability that has been in place for years.

EXPress Reservation with Mobile Suica/Apple Pay Suica
Register Apple Pay Suica in the Suica App EXPress Reservation menu as your “EX-IC” card

Joining the EX Reservation via Suica App registers Apple Pay Suica as the “EX-IC” card for travel on JR Central and JR West Shinkansen lines with just Apple Pay Suica. This is exactly the same as smartEX but with the much bigger EX Reservation discounts. A single Shinkansen trip with EX Reservation discounts pretty much covers the annual ¥1,080 membership fee.

Suica App Sign Up
The Suica App sign up process is not difficult but requires decent Japanese reading ability, patience and a JR East View Card already registered in Suica App. With that in place and your 4 digit View Card PIN number on hand, tap the Suica App View Express menu, then tap View Express Register.

The View Express Register section will instruct you to enter 3 digits of your PIN number in a random order.

Once View Express Register is successfully completed wait 2 weeks for JR Central to send your View Epresss EX Reservation IC card.

JR Central IC
EX IC Card for View Card

After receiving your View Express IC go to Suica App and tap EXPress Reservation. Every time you tap this menu you are bumped to Safari and have to tap the agree-service connect button near the bottom. After tapping the button you are taken to the mobile EXPress Reservation login site.

Tap the text line just below the orange login banner that reads: “Mobile Suica users accessing EXPress Reservation for the first time touch here.”

This takes you through a quick registration process where you enter an email address and receive a mail with a special smartphone registration link. Tap that then enter your View Card number/expiration date and a password. When completed you receive an EXPress Reservation member ID.

Smarter than smartEX
An interesting and important difference from smartEX is that registration via Suica App automatically enters your Apple Pay Suica ID with the EX system and updating is easy if your Suica ID changes from a re-install, etc. smartEX requires a manual update if the Suica ID changes and is easy to forget.

Once registration is complete use the EX App for JR Central – JR West Shinkansen ticket reservation and purchase. Be sure to login EX App with your Express Reservation member ID and password via the Express Card option.

If you ride JR Central – JR West Shinkansen lines more than 1~2 times a year and have a View Card, EX ticket discounts are worth registration via Suica App EXPress Reservation.

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iOS 11.2 Suica Notification Bug

Many more Japanese users are tweeting about the iOS 11.2 Apple Pay Suica Notification bug mentioned yesterday and appears to be widespread. Suica “gate flicker”, a momentary bad gate read or complete re-read, is also a problem for iPhone X users.

Here’s what I have found so far.

  • Not Working: Suica Notifications for Transit, Recharge, Transactions
  • Working: User set Suica Reminders for low balance and commuter pass renewal
  • Suica Help Mode, device restart, deleting and re-adding Suica in Wallet does not solve the problem
  • Apple Pay Suica works normally with all transactions correctly logged in Wallet.

I’ll post any updates and workarounds here.

iOS 11.2 Update and Apple Pay Suica Issues (U)

Every iOS update seems to affect Apple Pay Suica performance. For me iOS 11 still does not match the rock solid Suica performance of iOS 10.3.x. The iOS 11.2 update went smoothly for the first few days, then Apple Pay Suica notifications (shown below) stopped working just about the time that Apple Pay Cash went live in the USA.

Apple Pay Suica Lock Screen Notification 2

Apple Pay Suica still works fine but none of the iOS 10 workarounds to revive Suica Notifications work anymore: Suica Help Mode +Restart, delete and reinstall Suica in Wallet, etc.

I also notice that after updating to iOS 11.2,  iPhone X occasionally experiences “gate flicker”: the station gate flashes red for a fraction of a second then clears. The last time I experienced gate flicker was the iOS 10.1 rollout of Apple Pay Suica service in October 2016. I guess that means performance has regressed a bit and suspect it is connected to the NFC-F timing issue in the earlier JR East store reader error notice.

Some Japanese twitter users have complained about sluggish iOS 11.2 Apple Pay Suica performance but fortunately and the dead Suica notification problem appears to be widespread an edge case: me and the other guy on Twitter.

Hopefully Apple Pay Suica performance will get a proper tune-up in the next iOS 11 update.

PASPY Transit Network Adding Suica Compatibility

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The Hiroshima area PASPY transit network website announced Suica and major transit IC card compatibility arriving “this spring” which can mean anytime between January 1 to April 1. Service startup details will be announced later.

Apple Pay Suica compatibility will be a major convenience for iPhone users living in the PASPY transit area.