Beginning Sept. 1, a new bus service will begin that will supplement the free "Norinori" bus system (and regular bus routes as well). Called the "Tsukutsuku Bus", the service will consist of 4 bus routes from the Tsukuba Bus Center. The cost is only 100 yen (50 yen for children), and for 200 yen, you can get a day pass that allows you unlimited use of the shuttle system.
One route consists of a figure 8 loop along streets between Nishi and Higashi Odori. Beginning at the bus center, the bus goes north past Matsumi Park to the Medical Center. It then loops back down to the Bus Center going past Azuma Elementary School, and then it continues south through Takezono to Minami Odori and then back up past the International Congress Center up to the Bus Center again.
Another route follows Tsuchiura-Gakuen Sen to the west out to 408 (Ushiku-Gakuen Sen) and then takes a loop through Matsushiro to come back up to Tsuchiura-Gakuen and then back to the Bus Center. The third route goes to the east from the Bus Center to Higashi Odori and from there as far north as Amakubo, where it goes west, past the Medical Center to do a short loop in Kasuga. It then retraces its route back to the Bus Center. Each of these three routes take 20 to 22 minutes, with the Matsushiro and Kasuga loops leaving every half hour from the Bus Center beginning at 8 am and continuing until 7:30 pm. The figure 8 loop has two buses running from 8 am, leaving every 15 minutes, with the last bus at 7:45 pm.
The fourth bus is an express bus that simply shuttles people between the Bus Center and the Tsukuba Branch Office near Route 125 to the north of the city (base of Mt. Tsukuba). Its purpose is different as it is to serve as a quick way for people to get into the center city from the north. It does not stop anywhere in between, but is designed to connect people who use the Norinori buses as well as those who want to park and ride. Parking is free at the Branch Office, and so for commuters, this offers a good option for avoiding traffic and parking problems in the center city. The trip takes 30 minutes, and with a 10 minute layover at each end, the bus only makes 8 round trips a day, with the first leaving at 6:55 am from the Branch Office and the last bus from the Bus Center leaving at 6:25 pm.
The buses are new, low emission vehicles with easy access for wheel chairs and people with handicapping conditions. There is even going to be a service (in Japanese) that you can access from a keitai phone to find out if the bus is on time or not (http://locomobi.jp/k/tsukuba). The complete map is available at http://locomobi.jp/tsukuba At present, the schedule is not up on the site, but presumably it will be by September.
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