ⓘ Sapporo Municipal Subway


ⓘ Sapporo Municipal Subway

The Sapporo Municipal Subway is a mostly-underground rubber-tyred rapid transit system in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. Operated by the Sapporo City Transportation Bureau, it is the only subway system on the island of Hokkaido.


1. Lines

The system consists of three lines: the green Namboku Line North-South line, orange Tozai Line East-West line, and blue Tōhō Line. The first, the Namboku Line, was opened in 1971 prior to the 1972 Winter Olympics. The Sapporo City Subway system operates out of two main hubs: Sapporo Station and Odori Station. Most areas of the city are within a reasonable walking distance or short bus ride from one of the subway stations.

The three lines all connect at Odori Station and with the JR Hokkaido main lines at Sapporo Station. At Odori and Susukino stations, it connects to the streetcar tram above. The system has a total length of 48 km with 46 stations. Except for the section of the Namboku Line south of Hirigishi Station, the tracks and stations are underground.


2. Technology

All lines of the subway use rubber-tired trains that travel on two flat roll ways, guided by a single central rail. This system is unique among subways in Japan and the rest of the world; while other rubber-tired metro networks, including smaller automated guideway transit lines such as the Port Liner, use guide bars, the Sapporo system does not because the central rail makes them superfluous similar to some rubber-tyred trams, such as the Translohr and Bombardier Guided Light Transit.

There are differences between the technology used on the older Namboku Line and the newer Tōzai and Tōhō Lines. The Namboku Line uses a T-shaped guide rail, double tires, and third rail power collection, while the Tōzai and Tōhō Lines use an I-shaped guide rail, single tires, and overhead line power collection. Also, the surface of the roll ways is either made up of resin on the entirety of the Namboku Line and the central section of the Tōzai Line or steel on the outer sections of the Tōzai Line and the entirety of the Tōhō Line.


3. Rolling stock

Namboku Line

  • 3000 series 8-car formation with 2 doors per side, from 1978 until 2012
  • 5000 series 6-car formation with 4 doors per side, since 1997
  • 1000/2000 series 2/4/6/8-car formation with 2 doors per side, from 1971 until 1999

Tōzai Line

  • 6000 series 7-car formation with 3 doors per side, from 1976 until 2008
  • 8000/8300 series 7-car formation with 3 doors per side, since 1998

Tōhō Line

  • 7000 series 4-car formation with 3 doors per side, from 1988 until 2016
  • 9000 series 4-car formation with 3 doors per side, since May 2015

4. Fares

Ticket prices range from 200 yen to 360 yen, depending on the distance to travel. Day passes and discount passes can be purchased at the vending machines. Prepaid "With You" cards can be used for the subway, streetcar and regular city routes offered by JR Hokkaido Bus, Chuo Bus and Jotetsu Bus.

One-day Cards offer unlimited rides on the subway, streetcar, and regular city routes offered by the Chuo, Jotetsu, and JR Hokkaido Buses excluding some suburban areas on the day of purchase. A subway one-day card, for use only on the subway, is also available. Donichika-Tickets allow for unlimited one-day ride pass for the subway to be used only on Saturdays, Sundays and national holidays.

Commuter passes offer unlimited rides between specific stations during their period of validity. There are two types of commuter pass: one for those commuting to their workplace and one for students; both are available for one- or three-month periods, and can be purchased from commuter pass sales offices located at major stations. All stations accept the SAPICA rechargeable IC cards which can be used as a fare card for the subway.


5. Shopping areas

There are two main shopping areas located underground, connected to the exits of three central stations on the Namboku line: Sapporo Station, Susukino Station, and Odori Station. Pole Town is an extensive shopping area that lies between Susukino and Odori stations. Aurora Town is a shopping arcade that is connected to Sapporo station. It links some of the main shopping malls in Sapporo, such as Daimaru, JR Tower, Esta, and Stellar Palace.