Driving in Okinawa’s bus lanes a no-no!
Some of you may be new to the island, while others may just seem to forget. But, despite signs and previous stories written by Stripes, I continue to see Y-number license plate cars pulled over for driving in Okinawa’s bus lanes.
When driving south on Route 58 to MCAS Futenma, you need to merge to the far-left lane at some point in order to make a left turn into the facility’s gate. However, doing that too early can lead to trouble.
I see it in the southbound lane between the south end of Camp Foster and the entrance of MCAS Futenma. The scene is all too familiar.
The bus lanes are those 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.
*There are no base lanes effective on Saturdays, Sundays, National holidays in Japan, and January 1st through 3rd.
Notes: The Asato Intersection/Kokusai Streetbound lane near Shuri Castle between Yamagawa and Matsugawa is exclusively used by buses during the time period. This road tends to see heavy traffic going to Kokusai street or Shuri Castle. There is a reversible lane running at the center, which is used as an Asato Intersection/Kokusai streetbound lane from 6 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. whereas from 5:30 p.m. through 6 a.m., it becomes a Yamagawa/Shuri Castle/Matsugawabound, according to the Okinawa prefectural government.
- Okinawa Prefectural Police