The city of Sapporo is served by an extensive public transport system consisting of 3 subway lines, JR (Japan Railway) lines, a streetcar route and a substantial bus service. Major JR routes provide access into the city and connections to New Chitose Airport, as well as the suburbs and surrounding areas of Sapporo. The three subway lines, serving a total of 46 stations throughout Sapporo, link the main business, commercial, and entertainment areas as well as the central railway station, to all parts of the city. Regular streetcar and buses cover routes not serviced by the subways and convenient shuttle buses link shopping areas and event venues around the city. Various one-day or pre-paid passes covering all these services are available, making travelling within Sapporo even cheaper and more convenient.
Although Sapporo’s population surpasses 1.8 million, the city center is compact and most central facilities are within walking distance. In summer, a pleasant stroll through Odori Park links many hotels and conference venues with the business and commercial areas. Extensive underground shopping malls and walkways connect major buildings with subway stations and provide shelter in Sapporo’s more severe winter weather.
Quiet, Clean Subways
Unique rubber tires make Sapporo’s subway system one of the quietest and cleanest in Japan, if not the world. Services start from early morning and continue until midnight. One-day passes are available for 800 yen and “multi-purpose” pre-paid cards connecting the subway with streetcar and bus routes are available for 1000 yen. “Donichika Ticket” is a one-day pass, only usable on Saturdays and Sundays, sold for 500 yen.
Streetcars operate regular return trips on an almost circular route between South 1 West 4, and Susukino, via the Mt. Moiwa area. Get on at any of the 21 stops enroute and pay a flat rate of 170 yen as you get off. A discount rate of 150 yen is available in the mornings before 7:00am.
Extensive Bus Services
Although certain knowledge of the local geography might help when using buses, this simple and cheap way to travel enables you to see more of the city. Simply board the bus through the rear door, take a ticket from the machine and pay your fare as you get off. A numbered fare display at the front of the bus allows you to calculate your fare from the number on your ticket.
Taxis are available any time day or night. In some of the more frequented parts of the city, there are also taxi stops, or cab ranks, where drivers wait by the curb. Base fares start around 550 – 650 yen. Tipping is not customary.