Pusher (railway station attendant)
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A pusher (oshiya (押し屋) in Japanese) is a worker who pushes people onto the train at a railway station during the morning and evening rush hours. When they were first brought in at Shinjuku Station, they were called "passenger arrangement staff" (旅客整理係 ryokaku seiri gakari ), and were largely made up of students working part-time; nowadays, station staff and/or part-time workers fill these roles during morning rush hours on many lines.
It becomes difficult to shut the doors when the number of passengers is over 200% of a train's capacity, but pushers are often stationed on platforms when trains are at around 120% capacity, as they also help to organize passengers.
The term oshiya (押し屋) is derived from the verb "osu" (押す), meaning "push", and the suffix "-ya" (屋), indicating "line of work."
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The steps undertaken in the work of pushers include:
- Before the train enters the platform, they perform safety checks.
- When the train arrives, watching the passengers get on and off the train.
- Just before the train departs, they guide passengers who cannot find the space to get onto the train to a door where there is more room.
- When the doors close, they check that no passengers or items of baggage are stuck in the doors.
- If any passengers are trapped, they go to push them.
- When they have finished their area, they go to help in another area. At this point, if the straps of a bag, particularly a rucksack, are trapped, as the doors do not open immediately, it may be difficult for the owner of the bag to get off the train. Pushers watch especially carefully for this. They also do the work of a "puller-off" (剥がし屋 hagashiya ), pulling off passengers who try to get on too late, or when the train is too full.
- After the doors have closed, they hold up a flag, hand, or lamp to signal the conductor or driver that it is safe to depart.
- Mito, Yuko. 定刻発車 (Teikoku Hassha). pp. 113-118. Tokyo: Shinchosha, 2001.
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