EAST Japan Railway and NTT DoCoMo Inc are developing proposals to equip mobile telephones with Suica microchips, which are currently being used in the railway's contactless smart cards (RG 2.02 p99). Passengers could then use a Suica-fitted telephone to reserve seats on trains, and to pass through ticket control barriers at stations. Introduction is planned for 2004.
JR-East hopes the move will allow it to reduce staffing levels, and use prime station locations currently dedicated to ticket sales for other revenue-generating purposes. Over 3·6 million Suica smart card tickets have been issued since the launch last November.