Shuto Expressway

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Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited
Native name
首都高速道路株式会社
Shuto Kōsoku-dōro Kabushiki-gaisha
TypeKabushiki gaisha
IndustryTransportation
PredecessorMetropolitan Expressway Public Corporation (1959–2005)
Founded1959 (as public corporation)
2005 (corporatized)
HeadquartersTokyo, Japan
Area served
Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Chiba, Saitama
Key people
Toshitaka Miyata, (CEO)
ProductsOperation and maintenance of the Shuto Expressway
RevenueIncrease ¥444.91 billion (2008)
OwnersGovernment of Japan (49.99%)
Tokyo Metropolitan Government (26.72%)
Kanagawa Prefecture (8.28%)
Saitama Prefecture (5.90%)
Yokohama Municipal Government (4.45%)
Kawasaki City (3.82%)
Chiba Prefecture (0.80%)
Number of employees
2609 (2008)
SubsidiariesMetropolitan Expressway Service Co, Ltd.
Websitewww.shutoko.jp
Shuto Expressway system shown in red, other interconnected expressways in green

Shuto Expressway (首都高速道路, Shuto Kōsoku-dōro, lit. "Metropolitan Expressway", where shuto also means "capital city") is a network of toll expressways in the Greater Tokyo Area of Japan. It is operated and maintained by the Metropolitan Expressway Company Limited (首都高速道路株式会社, Shuto Kōsoku-dōro Kabushiki-gaisha).

Most routes are grade-separated (elevated roads or tunnels) and central routes have many sharp curves and multi-lane merges that require caution to drive safely. The speed limit is 60 km/h on most routes, but 80 km/h on the Bayshore Route, and 50 km/h on the Inner Circular Route.

All trips on the expressway require a toll be paid. As of 2014, the cash toll for a standard-size car is ¥1300 regardless of distance traveled. Vehicles using the ETC toll-collection system pay a distance-based toll ranging from ¥300 to ¥1300 for ordinary vehicles (see toll price) – in some cases substantially less than the previous fixed-rate toll. Lower cash rates exist for certain radial routes (where there are only a few kilometers of expressway remaining) and ETC users have various time-of-day discounts. For large vehicles, the toll is doubled.

Routes[edit]

There are 24 routes currently in operation:

Circular (loop) routes[edit]

The Shuto Expressway as it crosses Rainbow Bridge
Shinonome Junction
Ariake Junction

Bayshore route[edit]

  • B Bayshore Route (Higashi-Kanto-Expressway – ) Chidori-cho – Sachiura / Namiki ( – Yokohama–Yokosuka Expressway)

Radial routes[edit]

Kanagawa routes[edit]

  • K1 Yokohane Route (Route 1 – ) Haneda - Ishikawa-cho JCT ( – Route K3)
  • K2 Mitsuzawa Route Kinko JCT – Mitsuzawa ( – Yokohama Shindo Road and Daisan Keihin Road)
  • K3 Kariba Route Honmoku JCT – Kariba ( – Yokohama Shindo Road and Yokohama-Yokosuka Expressway)
  • K5 Daikoku Route (Route K1 – ) Namamugi JCT - Daikoku JCT ( – Bayshore Route)
  • K6 Kawasaki Route Tonomachi – Kawasaki-Ukishima JCT ( – Bayshore Route and Tokyo Bay Aqua Line)
  • K7 Yokohama North Route (Route K1 and Route K5 – ) Namamugi JCT - Yokohama Kōhoku JCT ( – Daisan Keihin Road and Route K7)
  • K7 Yokohama Northwest Route (Route K7 and Daisan Keihin Road – ) Yokohama Kōhoku JCT – Yokohama-Aoba JCT ( – Tōmei Expressway)

Saitama routes[edit]

History[edit]

Rainbow Bridge on the Daiba Route

The Metropolitan Expressway was first built between Kyobashi Exit in Chūō, Tokyo and Shibaura Exit in Minato, Tokyo in 1962 for the purpose of increasing traffic flow efficiency in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, thus optimizing and improving the functionality of the traffic system. Since then, 280 kilometers of highway network has been built in the Tokyo metropolitan area; 30 kilometers more of highway are either constructed or planned, making the Metropolitan Expressway a vast network of urban expressways in the Tokyo region.

Pillion passenger ban on motorcycles[edit]

Japan allows a person aged at least 20 who has held a motorcycle driver's license for at least three years to carry a pillion passenger on expressways, however, the Shuto Expressway in the central parts of Tokyo prohibit carrying pillion passengers due to poor road geometry.[1] The ban does not apply if the motorcycle is equipped with a sidecar. The segments with a pillion ban include the important C1 Inner Circular route and adjoining central Tokyo routes.

With the opening of the C2 Yamate Tunnel, motorcycles with a pillion passengers can finally pass through the Shuto Expressway from the national expressways such as Tōmei Expressway to other expressways using the C2 route, although this can be a much longer drive in some cases.[2]

Parking areas[edit]

There are 21 parking areas scattered throughout the Shuto Expressway system. In general these are much smaller than the service areas available every 30 kilometers (19 miles) or so on inter-city expressways. In some cases there are no more than toilets, a few vending machines, and a handful of parking spaces. None have fuel – drivers must exit the system (and pay the toll again on re-entry) to use a service station.

Street racing[edit]

Like other expressways in Japan including the Tōmei Expressway, the Shuto line has become a common street racing road. One of the lines, Bayshore Route (or known as the Wangan by hashiriya), received worldwide notoriety during the 1990s as the home course for the Mid Night Club, one of the most notorious street racing clubs, who were known for their 300 km/h, sometimes 320 km/h exploits.

Due to this infamy, the Wangan is the setting for several entertainment properties, such as the manga and arcade game Wangan Midnight, video games Shutokou Battle and Gran Turismo 5, 6, Sport and 7 (as the street circuit) and the movie series Shuto Kousoku Trial. Numerous car enthusiast magazines and DVDs, like Best Motoring, also highlight races and activities on the Wangan.[3][4][5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 交通・安全 FAQ
  2. ^ Map of Pillion Passenger Ban
  3. ^ Hot Version Vol. 87 (Wangan Midnight homage)
  4. ^ JDM Option International - Vol 6: 2004 D1 Grand Prix Ebisu (Chiba Footage from Tokyo WANGAN Scene)
  5. ^ JDM Option International - Vol. 7: Super High Speed Drift (Chiba Footage from Tokyo WANGAN Scene)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°39′39″N 139°44′15″E / 35.660814°N 139.737560°E / 35.660814; 139.737560