Now operational: Monorail extension into Urasoe adds four new stations

Now operational: Monorail extension into Urasoe adds four new stations

The inaugural train departing Tedako-Uranishi station in Urasoe City at 5:39 a.m. on October. 1.

October 1, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

Okinawa Urban Monorail, also known as Yui Rail, expanded its existing line 4.1km into Urasoe City. Service to the extended line began on September 29. Four new stations service the extended zone: Tedako-Uranishi, Urasoe-Maeda, Kyōzuka and Ishimine, which opened its doors at 5:15 a.m. The first monorail departed Tedako-Uranishi station at 5:39 a.m., where commemorative postcards were given away. Tedako-Uranishi station and Ishimine station were both packed with patrons despite the early morning hours.

Okinawa Urban Monorail Inc. CEO Yoshimasa Misato delivered a speech at the opening ceremony at Tedako-Uranishi station: “This extension of the Yui Rail and its service will provide Urasoe City with a mode of transportation that is on-time, consistent, safe and comfortable, which will significantly change the lifestyles of Urasoe residents. I expect it will thrust forward the development of nearby neighborhoods. In particular, Tedako-Uranishi station has great potential to become a transportation hub, as it offers connections to the central-northern areas of the island. Tedako-Uranishi will become a key area for Okinawa, as locals and tourists pass through this station during their travels.” The CEO added, “Yui Rail is a transportation system that is people-friendly. We connect people to towns, and people with people. We will continue our contribution in developing the areas surrounding Urasoe station.”

Local residents pleased with the Urasoe expansion gather at Ishimine station in Naha City to send off the 6:30 a.m. train.

First in line at Tedako-Uranishi station on opening day was a Naha City resident, Isamu Yamakawa, 55. Yamakawa was one of the first passengers of the Yui Rail, and took the inaugural train from Shuri station at the grand opening in 2003. Determined to be the first passenger of the extended line, Yamakawa arrived at Tedako-Uranishi station at 4:30 a.m. to wait for its doors to open. When asked why, he replied: “Because it’s there.”

During the 7:30 through 8:30 morning rush hour, the platforms and trains were flooded with commuters. Okinawa Urban Monorail had revised the schedule for opening day, and extended the rush hour window in which trains run every four minutes. Nonetheless, some commuters at Omoromachi station were forced to wait for the next ride, as they were unable to board the overflowing cars.

Naha City office worker Nanako Taira, 31, observed the Naha Airport-bound 8:20 train as it arrived the station and said, “It’s crowded more than usual, maybe because they extended the line into Urasoe City.” She boarded the next train.

Yui Rail debuted in 2003; The extension brings the line to a total of 17km in length, and 19 stations.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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