Combining Your Commuter Pass with a Ticket on JR West

My daily commute is an hour and half each morning and night. Truthfully, the commute is not that bad. I have a smartphone so I usually spend my time on Facebook, reddit, and Buzzfeed after I check my email. I also have a Kindle so I can read  in case there is nothing amusing on the Internet. For my commute I use my commuter pass( teiki/ 定期). I usually buy a three month pass and save quite a bit of money for my long commute. However, my job requires me to do a quite a bit of  travelling where I can”t use my commuter pass and I have to pay full price sometimes. This week I was fortunate to learn a trick that helps with my commute when I travel outside of my commuter pass zone.

My poorly drawn map of JR stations

My poorly drawn map of JR stations. Click for a bigger image.

Let’s say my commuter pass is valid from from Kyoto to Osaka. That means that I can get on at any station between Kyoto and Osaka and get off at any station between Kyoto and Osaka by just using my commuter pass.

Let’s say I want to go from Kyoto (in my commuter pass zone) to Amagasaki (two station after Osaka and outside of my commuter pass zone). I can enter Kyoto station with my commuter pass, but once I get to Amagasaki I will have to use the fair adjustment machine to pay the fee of going from Osaka to Amagasaki.

Now what if wanted to go from Amagasaki to Kyoto? I can’t enter the station using my commuter pass(I can only use that for stations between Kyoto and Osaka), but I don’t want to pay for the trip between Osaka to Kyoto since I have my commuter pass.

I have three options:
1. Throw in the towel  and buy a ticket from Amagasaki to Kyoto
2. Buy a ticket (or use your ICOCOA card) to go into the station. Leave the station at Osaka and enter Osaka station again with your commuter pass.
3. The trick I learned: At Amagasaki station buy a ticket to Osaka and stay on the train until you get to Kyoto (or any stop in your commuter pass zone). When you exit the station don’t go through the ticket gate or to the fare adjustment machine. Go to a manned ticket window and show your ticket to Osaka and your commuter pass to the staff at the window. They will check to see if the price is right, take your ticket, hand you back your commuter pass, and let you through the gate.

For months I had been doing option 2- entering the station with my ICOCA card, leaving the station once I got to my commuter pass zone, and going back in with my commuter pass. This added about 15 minutes to my commute because I had to wait for the next train. Fortunately, I got lucky and one day while I was asking a station staff member a question I noticed two people show the station master at the ticket gate window their tickets and their commuter pass. A few days later I traveled outside of my commuter zone, bought a ticket, showed them both to the station master and was waved out of the station! It has been so much easier for me to travel and I get home much earlier after I’ve done a long trip.

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