Kyoto Introduces Innovative Sightseeing Bus Service to Tackle Over-Tourism

In an effort to alleviate overcrowding and ensure a smoother travel experience for both tourists and locals, the Kyoto city government has launched a unique initiative: the “Sightseeing Limited Express Bus” services. Commencing on June 1, these buses will exclusively stop at major sightseeing spots, providing a dedicated solution to the challenges posed by over-tourism.

Featuring two distinct routes, these buses aim to streamline travel from Kyoto Station to key attractions. The first route spans from Kyoto Station to Ginkakuji temple, passing through iconic locales such as Gojozaka near Kiyomizudera temple, the vibrant Gion district, and the historic Heian Jingu Shrine. Meanwhile, the second route offers direct access from Kyoto Station to Gojozaka.

Operating 24 times a day for the Ginkakuji line and 16 times a day for the alternate route on weekends and holidays, these services come at a fare of 500 yen (approximately S$4.30) for adults, surpassing the normal flat fare of 230 yen. Notably, holders of the Subway and Bus 1-Day Pass can also utilize this service.

Both tourists and local residents are welcome to utilize these specialized buses, although commuter passes and senior citizen passes are not applicable. A departure ceremony marked the commencement of the service on June 1, held in front of Kyoto Station and attended by Kyoto Mayor Koji Matsui, who emphasized the importance of balancing tourism with the daily lives of local residents.

“We want more people to enjoy sightseeing in the city while also ensuring that local residents can comfortably go about their everyday life,” Mayor Matsui stated, underscoring the city’s commitment to fostering sustainable tourism practices and enhancing the overall visitor experience. This innovative approach to transportation underscores Kyoto’s proactive stance in addressing the complex challenges posed by over-tourism, setting a precedent for other popular tourist destinations worldwide.