On Jan 20, the Kanto Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism put its final stamp of approval on taxi operators' proposals to reduce the "hatsu-nori" (flag down) initial taxi fare from the current 730 yen for the first 2 kilometers to 410 yen for the first 1.052 kilometers. The change, which will affect taxis operating in the 23 wards of Tokyo and the western suburbs of Musashino and Mitaka, will go into effect from January 30.
What Nikkan Gendai (Jan 25) wants to know is, who can expect to gain some advantage from the new fare structure, and who's likely to emerge a loser?
"In the 23 wards, the fare for a bus ride is 210 yen, or 206 if paying with a PASMO or other IC card," a salesman employed by a manufacturing company tells the reporter. "So a bus is cheaper than a taxi; but in the summer things get pretty hot, so when I make the rounds I don't mind paying extra to take a taxi."
Once the meter kicks in beyond the minimum fare, the charges will change as well, from 90 yen per every additional 280 meters to 80 yen per every additional 237 meters.
A simple calculation works out as follows: At the 1.526-kilometer mark, the meter will read 570 yen; and at 1.763 kilometers, the fare will increase to 650 yen. So if three people share a cab and ride for 1.7 kilometers, they will actually pay only 20 yen more -- and certainly arrive sooner at their destination -- than if the three take a bus.
What sort of distance are we talking about here? Roughly that between the Marunouchi exit at Tokyo central station and the Imperial Hotel.
When the world's financial markets were hit by a near panic in 2008 -- referred to in Japan as the Lehman Shock -- corporate revenues are said to have dropped by around 15%. A source in the taxi industry recalls that it was from around this time that more businessmen began sharing taxi rides to hold down out-of-pocket costs.
The new fares offering savings for short rides are likely to appeal to those who, for example, accompany an elderly family member to a hospital or day care center. It may also up a new era of competition with buses operated by the Tokyo metropolis, which in fiscal 2015 reported losses of 739 million yen.
On the other hand, the savings offered for very short taxi rides will be offset by an effective increase for rides of 4 kilometers or longer. A ride from Tokyo station to Shibuya, for example, is just over 6.5 kilometers.
"After the Lehman Shock, the number of customers leaving by around midnight to catch the last train home increased sharply," the operator of a bar in Ginza recalled to Nikkan Gendai. "We typically stay open until 2 a.m., but with fewer late-night customers, our revenues dropped by 20 to 30%, and nobody knows when or if the economy will make a comeback.
"While we're still getting customers who live closer the city center, if their taxi fares go up, it's probably going to impact negatively on our business, both in terms of income and personnel costs. So late-night operations in particular are likely to start feeling the pinch," he fretted.© Japan Today