Nagoya Railroad, the transportation bureau of the Japanese city of Nagoya, and four other public-transportation companies are planning to launch a contactless transit card called Manaca for use by riders of trains, buses and subways in Nagoya. The companies expect to complete the launch by next February.

The primary goal of the initiative is to make commuting more convenient for riders than when using magnetic stripe transit cards, Tetsurou Morita, Nagoya Railroad spokesperson, tells PaymentsSource.

“With Manaca, passengers can enjoy a smooth pass and the accurate calculation of their transportation costs,” Morita says. Contactless card readers also require less maintenance than do mag-stripe card readers, which lowers costs for the operators, he says.

“But it is still not clear whether the currently used magnetic stripe cards will be completely replaced by the contactless smart card,” Morita says.

Manaca uses Sony's contactless-payment technology FeliCa, "so passengers can also use it to make small purchases," says Morita. FeliCa is the de facto smart card ticketing system standard in Japan. Many of the cards have integrated services, including a electronic money function.

Until at least until 2012, Manaca will not be interchangeable with the Central Japan Railway Co's Toica and East Japan Railway's Suica contactless smart card systems, Morita adds. As such, consumers will still have to buy separate cards to access those rail systems. 

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