BUSted: Don’t get caught in wrong lane on Okinawa


BUSted: Don’t get caught in wrong lane on Okinawa

by: Shoji Kudaka | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: May 31, 2017

Driving along route 58, I often spot Y license plates pulled over by local police. The location is the southbound lane between the south end of Camp Foster and the entrance of MCAS Futenma.

Although it’s not every day I see this, these frustrated drivers are often being pulled over for violating the bus lane laws.

That’s right – there are lanes that can only be used by public busses during certain times of the day. And the penalty for violation can be 6,000-7,000 yen.

This law is an important one to know, and should be covered anytime someone is new to Okinawa. If you’ve been here for a while, you likely have heard of this many times.

There is nothing difficult about understanding the rule. To put it simply, it is a lane designated for buses, most likely the lane you would see on the far left. But it may require a special attention to note an actual bus lane when you get behind the wheel.

Although some bus lanes are colored green, some are not. Drivers need to note what time of day it is, because the rule only applies certain times of the day – typically rush-hour in the morning and evening.

It is pretty simple, but there are some smaller details one needs to know when driving during bus lane hours.

Did you know that you are allowed to merge into a bus lane for a left turn only once you’re within 30 meters (98.4 feet) of the intersection? Or that there are roads that turn exclusively into bus lanes, not allowing any personal vehicles to travel in certain directions at certain times?

According to the Okinawa Prefectural Police, the best advice for drivers to avoid bus lane violations, is to be aware of the rules before you drive. And ideally, have an idea of which areas are affected by the rule.

And with all of the people I see getting pulled over, maybe a refresher course would be worth the time.

Bus Lanes

- Location: Southbound lane of Route 58 (From Isa intersection near the south end of Camp Foster to Nakanishi, southern end of Camp Kinser) Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m.
- Location: Southbound lane of Route 58 (From Jittchaku intersection to Aja intersection) Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m.
- Location: Southbound lane of Route 58 (From Ameku to Kumoji Intersection) Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m.
- Location: Northbound lane of Route 58 (from Asahibashi Intersection to Jittchaku, and Nakanishi to Makiminato Overpass) Time: 5:30 - 7 p.m.
- Location: Kokusai Street Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m. (Southbound) 5:30 - 7 p.m. (Northbound)
- Location: Route 222 (Between Naha High School and Yogi Intersection)  Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m. (Naha High School bound) 5:30 - 7 p.m. (Yogibound)
- Location: Route 330 (From Kohagura through Yogi, northbound lane) Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m.
- Location: Route 329 to Route 507 (from Kanegusuku to Kohagura)  Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m.
- Location: Route 29 (Between Asato near Kokusai street and Yamagawa near Shuri Castle)  Time: 7:30 - 9 a.m. (Asato Intersection/Kokusai streetbound lane), 5:30 - 7 p.m. (Yamagawa/Shuri castlebound)

* There are no bus lanes on Saturdays, Sundays, National holidays in Japan, and Jan.1-3.

- Okinawa Prefectural Police