Kyoto's Foreigner-Friendly Tourist InformationNew Guidelines to Standardize Bus Stop Names, etc.
To facilitate use of public transit by foreign tourists visiting Kyoto City, 15 companies that run fixed-route buses and railways, governmental agencies, and others are cooperating to improve guide signs. Based on a survey of foreign tourists, they have established new common guidelines and are taking step-by-step measures, such as standardizing the names of bus stops of different companies that are located at the same site.
One problem with foreign-language guide signs up until now has been that different companies prepared signs according to their company's own standards, resulting in varying types of displays. A working group, or WG, was formed in February last year, organized by Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau and Kyoto Bus. It involves the transportation companies, Kinki District Transport Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and university researchers.
Last autumn, the WG conducted a survey of 515 foreign tourists in Kyoto City. Roughly half of the respondents mentioned smartphones as a tool to check out transportation options. Many respondents requested improvement of guidance related to names of stations and bus stops, as well as route maps. Some opined, "I get confused with changing money," or "In a public vehicle, I feel more comfortable with information displays than audio announcements."
Holding as its basic principles "standardized phrases," "simple phrases" and others, the guidelines maintain that it is necessary to standardize Japanese signage at bus stops and to share common pictograms, or visual signage that uses pictures and figures.
Kyoto Bus has adopted the same names for 16 bus stops as Kyoto City Bus. For example, it has changed "Nakanoshima Koen" into "Arashiyama Koen." Although the Chinese characters "烏丸七条" were originally pronounced as "Karasuma Shichijo," the stop was revised to "Karasuma Nanajo," just as used by City bus, in order to avoid being misread or misheard for "Ichijo" or "Shijo."
Kyoto City Bus has installed more display monitors in its vehicles. KEIHAN BUS Co., Ltd. is showing codes for bus stops, enabling access to displays of approaching vehicles. West JR Bus Company has set up quadrilingual signage at some bus stops along the Takao-bound route.
As it is difficult to make arrangements for the 15 companies to work concurrently, each of them has begun with easily undertaken improvements. The Kyoto City government section in charge, "Arukumachi Kyoto," said, "We would like to try to solve the problems, while improving the guidelines themselves."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)