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City in Nagano offers super cheap taxi fares to seniors who give up licenses, and to disabled people

23 Comments
By SoraNews24

Transportation is a necessity for everyone and while Japan’s public transportation is top-notch, there are still gaps that can only be filled by a car. For that reason, a growing problem involves people hanging on to their licenses into old age when they become no longer able to drive safely.

That’s why many cities have introduced driver graduation programs in which seniors can exchange their valid licenses for ceremonial ones. These graduation licenses can often be used to get discounts on public transportation or from businesses.

▼ A video showing the process of graduating from a driver’s license. Those who do it are given a card almost identical to a normal driver’s license.

For the most part, the benefits of a graduated license have been a little underwhelming, but Ina City in Nagano Prefecture came up with a very enticing deal. Since 2020, anyone who has surrendered their driver’s license can take a taxi anywhere in the city for a flat rate of 250 yen.

Those who register for the system receive a card which is scanned in the cab, and regardless of the destination, the passenger pays only 250 yen with the city covering the rest.

Although the program is aimed at seniors who give up their licenses, the benefits are extended to anyone over 75, those who give up their licenses at any age, and those living with disabilities. In addition, anyone over 65 can get a similar deal, with a 500-yen fare regardless of their license situation.

However, anyone who lives very close to train lines and bus routes in the city center are not eligible. This service is also only available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

Nevertheless, about 13 percent of eligible residents are already using the new system and the city expects usage this year to rise to 70 people a day. Local taxi companies are also thrilled by the initiative. Having been hit hard during the pandemic they are now reporting steady business thanks to the program. Local shops have also experienced upticks because of the increased mobility people are enjoying around Ina City.

▼ A promotional video showing a woman using the service to visit the city office and get her shopping and banking done. It also shows how you can get added savings by carpooling with friends.

Readers of the news around Japan were also in agreement that this was a good plan. Especially following several high-profile incidents where pedestrians with children were stuck and killed by senior drivers.

“And these benefits aren’t even taking into account the lives saved from taking hazardous drivers off the street.”

“This is a really good idea.”

“I’m sure it costs a lot of money, but the benefits are great.”

“If this spreads across the country I’m sure the number of heartbreaking accidents will decrease.”

“I’m going to get a license just so I can surrender it.”

“With gas prices now, that’s simply better than driving yourself.”

There’s even a possibility that the businesses which are benefiting from this can get involved and make the savings even sweeter for the residents of Ina. Convenience stores seem like especially promising backers since their storefronts are oddly frequent targets for car crashes.

Sources: Asahi Digital, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Elderly motorists in Japan given option to “graduate from driving” to prevent accidents

-- Car crashes into Hiroshima 7-Eleven, owner gets guard rails, car crashes into gap in the rails

-- 69-year-old Tokyo man arrested for driving without a license for over 50 years

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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In our city, there is a communal taxi for those over 70s without a car. ¥200. The city also gives ¥15,000 for taxi tickets used for local taxis.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Why doesn't the city just allow ride hailing/sharing, like, you know, what the rest of the world is doing? I've got the Grab app for my trips to Thailand and Vietnam, and the convenience and prices are unbeatable.

Local taxi companies are also thrilled by the initiative....

They're being subsidized by local taxpayers' money. Of course they're thrilled. Not sure how "thrilled" the city's working population is.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

And the taxi driver hauling them around is in their 80s. It'd be much better allocation of taxpayer money to provide the services of Uber without the platform fees to encourage ride sharing. But that would effectively end the taxi companies, so not going to happen.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

They're being subsidized by local taxpayers' money.

Automobile infrastructure is also subsidized by taxpayers' money -- all taxpayers, including those who cannot drive because of disabilities or infirmity. Shouldn't those people get something for their tax money? They're already being deprived of all the opportunities that society gives to those who can drive. The occasional cheap taxi ride isn't really enough to make up for everything that society is taking away from these people.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Good.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This is an awesome idea for cities where public transportation is scarce like just the main station and just 2 or 3 bus lines.

Just this morning I saw a senior driving on the right lane of a major road in Tokyo, guess he was doing 40km/h or even less.

Even 1 life saved is worth the cost of subsidizing cheaper taxis for the elder.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Great idea.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

wow finally something that might help with the transport crisis for senior citizens in the countryside...now taxi drivers are also in quite an advanced age as well...in the end I think having fully automated vehicles will be the only solution for these rural areas.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Thon

Automobile infrastructure is also subsidized by taxpayers' money 

You mean sidewalks, stoplights, roads on bus and cycling routes, and the roads by which transport companies deliver our food and other necessities? All of use or benefit from this "infrastructure."

4 ( +5 / -1 )

This is a good idea, but we also need Uber and Lyft here to up the ante for taxi companies and drivers to evolve. Cabs are crazy expensive for everyone else!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Good start. Bears watching by other municipalities and prefectures.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You mean sidewalks, stoplights, roads on bus and cycling routes, and the roads by which transport companies deliver our food and other necessities? All of use or benefit from this "infrastructure."

Yes, its a myth to say only drivers benefit from roads. The above also means that there should be more pressure on companies like Amazon and Rakuten who massively benefit from infrastructure to pay taxes to support it.

In deep inaka, there are many abandoned villages, 廃村, mostly on hillsides or over mountain passes only accessible on foot that never had paved roads put in. Many of these were abandoned as Japan's population continued to expand. Now that rural populations are collapsing, the idea of other hamlets being abandoned shouldn't be particularly controversial. In some cases, Mohammed (inconveniently located elderly) should go to the mountain (serviced locations), and not expect the mountain to come to him.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Ina City. Population 68,000. 21,000 are 65+.

Not much call for Uber or Lyft.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

All of use or benefit from this "infrastructure."

But we don't all benefit in the same way, or receive a net benefit compared to what we have to pay, as anyone who cannot obtain a driver's license, or is trying to keep theirs at an advanced age, can attest. Older people cling to their licenses because they know how many opportunities are denied to you if you can't drive a car. The visually impaired and epileptics and others who can't drive learn this at a much younger age. And the general public either doesn't care, or insults them by claiming that because goods can be delivered to them by automobile, they shouldn't complain about never being able to operate an automobile themselves like the majority takes for granted.

A program like this one in Nagano is a tiny step toward alleviating this gigantic social inequality.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

ThonTaddeo

By that logic we should be eligible for a refund if we never have to call an ambulance, the fire department, the police, etc.? It's a public service/infrastructure that's there for everyone's benefit to varying degrees and paid for by everyone. There's no social inequality.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

JeffLeeToday  07:31 am JST

Why doesn't the city just allow ride hailing/sharing, like, you know, what the rest of the world is doing? I've got the Grab app for my trips to Thailand and Vietnam, and the convenience and prices are unbeatable.

Race to the bottom? You understand it’s cheap because its exploitation as its worst. All this “gig” economy is cheap because they are circumventing local laws and regulations in a race to the bottom. It only benefits the “platform”. No thank you.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

They paid taxes and city tax all their lives and rebuilt japan after Americans dropped nuclear bombs on civilians. They have a right to free public transport.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

By that logic we should be eligible for a refund if we never have to call an ambulance, the fire department, the police, etc.?

That's not the same logic. It would be if some people were banned, because of a condition they have no control over, from calling those services if they need them, like they are banned from operating a car. (Illegal immigrants, perhaps? I can't think of any other equivalent.)

It's a public service/infrastructure that's there for everyone's benefit to varying degrees and paid for by everyone. There's no social inequality.

If you think there is no social inequality involved in today's car-centered society, I ask you this: imagine the government (or some eccentric rich environmentalist, or whatever) came to you and offered to pay you in exchange for permanently losing the privilege of driving, how much would you have to be paid? You would never be allowed to operate a car again, ever. Other people can drive you around, and other people can deliver things to you by car, but you can't ever drive. Would you take this deal for one single yen? Certainly not. How about for a million yen? For a hundred million?

There's a number in the middle that would be your price, and I suspect it's pretty high. That's how valuable being able to drive a car is; drivers don't see all the advantages they have until the advantages are taken away. Nagano's very limited discount taxi service is a great first step, but it doesn't come close to the disadvantages of not being able to drive.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

ThonTaddeo

Driving is not a right. It's a privilege and only so if the individual meets certain criteria, e.g. physical, mental, financial, etc. It isn't the government or society's responsibility to compensate an individual for a personal factor or circumstance, including old age or a handicap, that precludes them from driving.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I wish the city would give me something for free for a change, lol

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@USN

Driving is not a right. It's a privilege 

Yes, it's a privilege -- one where people who have it take it, and its subsidization by the public, for granted. Those people have constructed an entire society where it is presupposed that everyone has this privilege; in many comunities you can't find a good job or home, or enjoy a decent social life, if you don't have it.

Nagano's subsidy is a welcome initiative for people who don't have this privilege.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Focus should be on self driving cars. They are already being used by some industries and technology is available.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's a good way to keep overage drivers out of danger. And it helps the disabled too. A win-win.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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