Last fall, the city began a new service called "Fukushi Bus" (Welfare Bus) that consists of 4 buses on specific routes that pick up and drop off people at numerous points along the route. What makes it different from the regular bus service is that it is free. It is not very "foreigner friendly" at the moment, as English timetables, etc. are not yet available, but for those without private cars, it is certainly worth taking the time to find out if a convenient route is close-by.
All four routes include the Bus Center and stop at terminal 6. Route A begins at the Tsukuba Branch Office (near the base of Mt. Tsukuba) and zigzags down back roads by the Sakura Branch Office and then to Tsukuba Center. It then takes a more westerly route almost to the border with Shimotsuma and then back over to the Tsukuba Branch Office again, taking a total of 68 minutes for the loop. It leaves the Tsukuba Branch Office at 7:00, 8:36, 10:00, 11:36, 13:15, 14:51, 16:15 and 17:51, returning to its starting point on the last run at 19:00.
Route B begins at the Oho Branch Office and follows a route that takes it to both the Tsukuba Bus Center and the Sakura Branch Office but also covering much of the northwest side of Tsukuba, including the area to the north of the Tsukuba Technopark Toyosato. Bus B first departs Oho at 8:04, arriving at the bus center at 8:26 and then returning to Oho at 8:54. The next cycles begin at 9:15, 13:14, 14:25 and 17:54.
Route C begins at the Tsukuba Bus Center and travels a route that is basically east and west from the center, ranging from Umezono, Sakura New Town and Namiki on up to Tsukuba Technopark Sakura in the east, and then through Tokodai, the Toyosato Branch Office out almost to the west edge of the city limits near the border with Ishige. The first bus leaves the bus center at 7:00 and takes a full 2 hours to make the entire round. The next bus leaves at 9:20, followed by 12:20, 14:40 and 17:00 before returning at 19:00.
Route D leaves from the Yatabe Branch Office and zigzags its way along a route in the southwestern part of town as far east as Kita Nakajima on Nishi Odori and on up to the Bus Center. From there, it loops around through Onogawa and Matsushiro and on out to the western edge of town near the border with Mitsukaido and on back to the Yatabe Branch Office, taking 65 minutes for the loop. The first bus leaves at 7:00 and is followed by buses at 8:25, 9:50, 11:15, 13:20, 14:45, 16:10 and 17:35.
A complete timetable listing the numerous stops can be obtained from any city office, but so far exist only in Japanese. The main purpose of this service is to help senior citizens get to city offices and welfare centers, but anyone is allowed to ride along the route. The International Office at City Hall is endeavoring to get information out in English that will make this service more useful to the international community, but if you think you might be able to make use of this free transportation, then please ask at the desk at the Sakura Branch Office for help in determining the route that would serve your needs.
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