A look at passenger statistics shows that the Tokaido Shinkansen did not enjoy uninterrupted prosperity.
During the first decade after it came into service in 1964, the Shinkansen enjoyed steadily increasing passenger numbers. The bullet train had its first peak in fiscal 1974, with 117.83 million passengers. But competition with other modes of transportation, such as automobiles and airlines, was relentless. In the decade before JNR's privatization in 1987, the annual number of passengers was below 100 million.
Helped by the bubble economy, JR Tokai aggressively promoted the Shinkansen with a revised timetable and a "Cinderella Express" ad campaign. Even after the bubble economy ended, the operator did not stop its drive to promote the Shinkansen by introducing new models one after another. These efforts have paid off, and JR Tokai's bullet trains now carry around 140 million travelers every fiscal year.