Kyoto City has partnered with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to begin providing taxis catering specifically to foreigners in front of JR Kyoto Station on a one-year trial basis.
The taxis, which were launched Tuesday, are meant to meet the needs of the growing number of foreign tourists, officials said. If the taxis get a good response, the service will eventually be provided throughout Japan, Sankei Shimbun reported.
The certified “Foreigner Friendly Taxis” will accept payments by credit cards, store two large suitcases within the vehicle, and be driven by drivers who have undergone language training courses in English and Chinese. The participants in the trial, that will run until March 2017, include 23 companies, 69 vehicles and 87 designated taxi drivers.
In the past, Kyoto officials said there had been reports of taxi drivers refusing to pick up foreigners due to a fear of communication difficulties. However, by designating “Foreigner Friendly Taxis,” the city hopes to eliminate any future misunderstandings due to cross-cultural communication problems.
To celebrate the start of the new service, a ceremony was held Tuesday in front of the taxi stand at JR Kyoto Station. Among the attendees was a language instructor originally from Spain but now permanently residing in Kyoto, who said: “It was troublesome when some taxi drivers would ask for my destination written in kanji characters. But with this service, even if you can’t speak Japanese, it won’t be a problem.”© Japan Today