Japan’s government has lowered Tokyo’s minimum taxi cab fare on Monday from ¥730 ($6.42) for 1.2 miles to just ¥410 ($3.60) for about 1 mile, making the first mile of the ride nearly 40% cheaper.
The new rate has been applied to cabs in Tokyo’s 23 wards and the suburban cities of Mitaka and Musashino, reported Japan Times.
While a ride may cost as much as it did under the previous system, the subway ticket prices in Tokyo still start at ¥160 ($1.40), so the $3.60 initial taxi fare could attract more groups of travelers stopping one station over.
RocketNews24 noted that the convenience of a taxi cab allows for minimal walking and reduces the chance of getting lost.
The new rate comes as the Japanese taxi industry is expecting more frequent use by foreign tourists and elderly people.
“Using a taxi in Tokyo has been pricey for short-distance travelers when compared to other cities like New York and London,” Takashi Nomura, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Nihon Kotsu Co., was quoted as saying. “By making the rate closer to that of other foreign cities, we hope to attract more foreign tourists to use our service.”
Some taxi drivers in residential areas in suburbs, where reportedly about 30% of taxi users travel less than 1.2 miles, are worried that the new rate will affect their income.
Kazunori Kawasaki, a secretary general for the Tokyo branch of All Japan Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions, said:
“Many taxi drivers get paid on a commission-based system … If their sales decrease in suburbs, they will have to come to the city, and that causes excessive competition.”
He added: “We have maintained a fair supply-and-demand balance of taxi drivers in cities and suburbs. But if the initial price becomes lower, some drivers would have no way to survive but to go to the city.”
Feature Image Copyright Moyan Brenn / Flickr