Ride-sharing Services Kick Off in 4 Prefectures This Month

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Visitors to Japan line up at a cab stand at Tokyo Station.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Ride-sharing services were set to begin in some districts in Tokyo and three other prefectures this month under the management of taxi companies.

The services were to be rolled out during the first month of fiscal 2024 in parts of the four prefectures, which also include Kanagawa, Aichi and Kyoto, by taxi operators that have completed preparations.

The focus is on whether ride-sharing services, in which general drivers offer paid rides using their private vehicles, will be established as a means of transportation amid taxi shortages in metropolitan and tourist areas.

The services will be introduced in Tokyo’s 23 special wards and nearby cities such as Musashino, some Kanagawa municipalities including the cities of Yokohama and Kawasaki, an area centered around the Aichi capital of Nagoya and a district including Kyoto’s namesake capital. All the areas suffer from severe taxi shortages.

The services will be allowed under the management of taxi firms during certain hours and days of the week.

Fares will be the same as those for taxis and will be paid through cashless payment services in principle.

Users will book rides basically through ride-hailing apps. The destinations and fares will be determined in advance of trips.

General drivers without a Class 2 driver’s license, required to transport passengers in vehicles, will be allowed to offer rides on condition that they had no accidents in the past two years.

The taxi companies will be responsible for providing safety guidance and vehicle maintenance.

Ride-sharing services will also be made available in eight districts in the metropolitan areas of the cities of Sapporo, Sendai, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima and Fukuoka from May onward.

The services were to be allowed at other regions from this month, on Fridays and Saturdays between 4 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following day, under certain conditions such as that there is a taxi shortage.

Separately, Japan was to ease restrictions this month on paid passenger transport services by local governments and nonprofit organizations in underpopulated areas where taxis and buses are not available.

Service providers will be able to operate jointly with taxi companies so that they can secure vehicles more easily.