Oct 11, 2016

    Japan cabs to have fares calculated in advance


    JAPAN'S Transport Ministry is hoping to introduce a taxi service in which fees will be set in advance of journeys, with an eye to rolling out the system in fiscal 2017 at the earliest.

    The service is expected to enable passengers to use taxis without worrying about what the fare will be when they are planning a long-distance journey or travelling in an unfamiliar place.

    The initiative will utilise a taxi-dispatching smartphone app. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry envisages a system by which fees are automatically calculated when users input information about their desired journey.

    Under the plan, when passengers get off at their destination, they will compare the fee calculated by the app with the amount displayed on the taxi's fare meter, and pay whichever is lower.

    According to the ministry, several taxi companies - including Nihon Kotsu, a major firm based in Tokyo - have requested the introduction of the system.

    Currently, fees are decided based on distance and the time taken for a journey.

    Because it is difficult to forecast the travel time in advance, the ministry and taxi companies plan to jointly develop a prediction system with a high level of accuracy.

    The ministry plans to carry out trials in Tokyo and other areas in fiscal 2017 to study consumer demand for the system and its accuracy.

    The move is part of the industry's efforts in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    There will also be moves to make the app available in English so that foreigners can enjoy the benefits too.