The Yomiuri ShimbunAt least 441 bus stops across 16 prefectures pose a danger to pedestrians as buses stop close to intersections or crosswalks, creating blind spots for oncoming traffic, a Yomiuri Shimbun survey found. In the past, there have been accidents where pedestrians were killed at some of these locations.
It is unclear, however, how many such bus stops exist. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry has started collecting data from bus operators nationwide.
The Road Traffic Law prohibits vehicles from parking or stopping within 5 meters of an intersection, though an exception is made for buses while picking up or dropping off passengers. Some prefectures have regulations that require bus stops be placed at least 15 to 30 meters from intersections.
The permission of the police and road authorities is needed to create or move a bus stop, though stops that were placed before rules were established can be found in many places.
In August, The Yomiuri Shimbun surveyed bus associations in all 47 prefectures to which about 2,400 private and other bus operators belong. They were asked about bus stops where buses jut out into crosswalks when picking up or dropping off passengers, and bus stops that are seen as problematic because of their proximity to crosswalks.
These “dangerous bus stops” were found in 10 prefectures, including 104 in Mie, 84 in Kanagawa and 70 in Nagasaki. Such stops were not found in Toyama and Miyazaki prefectures, while figures have not been ascertained in 34 other prefectures. The Tokyo association said it has a grasp on the number of dangerous bus stops but would not release its figures.
In some locations, stopped buses completely block crosswalks or jut out into intersections, hindering the progress of vehicles and pedestrians. Some stops have reportedly already been moved.
In addition to the bus associations, 18 municipalities that operate public bus systems and are part of the Municipal Transportation Works Association were interviewed.
Tokyo’s Toei Bus and Kyoto’s city bus each reported 11 such stops. City bus systems in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture; Sendai; Saga; and Matsue reported from one to six such stops.
People have been killed and injured in accidents near dangerous bus stops. In August 2018, a 10-year-old girl died after being hit by an oncoming vehicle when attempting to cross the street after getting off a bus in Yokohama. Accidents resulting in minor injuries occurred in Kanagawa Prefecture in December 2015 and April 2019. Pedestrians being in blind spots created by buses are among the factors seen as having caused these accidents.
Kanagawa and Hyogo prefectures are taking action such as moving bus stops that are near intersections. Some bus companies in Yamagata and Toyama prefectures have begun doing so.
However, nationwide data on the number of dangerous bus stops or the accidents they cause is not available.
“The risk of accidents rises dramatically when buses stop near crosswalks or intersections. This may be causing a large number of accidents,” said Prof. Hajime Tozaki, a traffic policy expert at J.F. Oberlin University. “A nationwide survey should be conducted immediately.”
The transport ministry also views the situation as problematic and has begun collecting data on dangerous bus stops nationwide.
“To eliminate tragic accidents, ministries, agencies and other relevant entities need to work together to consider measures,” a government source said.