October 31, 2022 (HARAMURA, JAPAN) — Starting October 31, Chino City’s AI-based, shared public transport service, “Noraza,” will expand to serve the nearby village of Haramura.
Noraza will be introduced in Haramura as a pilot project until March 2023 with the goal of understanding how to expand the rural community’s access to flexible, equitable, and sustainable transportation without the need for a personal vehicle.
Noraza uses innovative software from Via, the leader in TransitTech, to match passengers headed in the same direction into one vehicle – creating quick, efficient routes that provide more flexibility than traditional fixed-route buses.
- How to book: Noraza allows passengers to book a demand-responsive ride through the Noraza app or by calling 0266-70-0710. Book your ride up one week to one hour before you want to ride.
- Service hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
- Locations: Once a ride is booked, passengers are directed to a nearby “virtual bus stop” located a short walk away. Physical bus stops are also available at popular points of interest (including Haramura Town Hall, Suwa Central Hospital, clinics, and shopping centers). Rides cannot currently travel between the Chino City and Haramura zones, except for the Suwa Central Hospital, which is accessible from both the Chino City and the Haramura zones.
- Cost: 300 yen for journeys under 3 km, 500 yen for rides between 3 and 5 km, and 700 yen for rides more than 5 km. Discounts available for the elderly, those with mobility impairments, and children.
The introduction of Noraza will help Haramura to accomplish the following mobility goals:
- Fill the village’s public transportation blank zones. Noraza’s agility eliminates the need for residents to walk long distances to get to a fixed bus stop.
- Support the needs of the elderly and other vulnerable residents. 30% of Haramura’s population is elderly, and Noraza will help to allow this group to remain independent.
- Make public transportation more convenient. Unlike traditional buses, which operate with fixed routes and timetables, Noraza uses a flexible on-demand model.
- Foster opportunities for tourism and leisure. Noraza will enable tourists and locals alike to enjoy the town’s offerings without a private car, thus supporting the economy.
- Reduce the operating costs of public transportation. Noraza will be more operationally efficient and financially sustainable than the previous fixed-route buses.
“In the past several years, it has become crucial to provide convenient public transportation to all of Haramura’s residents and visitors – especially those residing in the remote areas, the elderly or disabled, and even tourists,” said Takeo Gomi, Mayor of Haramura. “We believe Noraza’s AI-based platform will fill ‘transportation deserts’ that were not previously served by buses, and therefore make it easier for the community to reach essential and leisure destinations without needing a car.”
“Via is proud to partner with Haramura for this next phase of the Noraza service,” said Shinobu Kato. “Noraza demonstrates how private-public partnerships are key to building the cities and villages of tomorrow, and we are excited to see how Via’s advanced technology can unlock a convenient, independent lifestyle for this community.”
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to develop public mobility systems — optimizing networks of buses, shuttles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles, and electric vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the costs of public transit while providing transportation options that rival the convenience of a personal car while reducing the environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, providing technology in 600 communities and more than 35 countries and counting.