Ride-Sharing Services Start in Tokyo; Kanagawa, Aichi, Kyoto, Others To Follow Suit

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A mechanic inspects a ride-sharing vehicle in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, on Monday.

Ride-sharing services kicked off in Tokyo on Monday. Individuals who have employment contracts with the taxi companies managing the services began offering paid rides using private vehicles.

A ceremony in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, marked the occasion before the ride-sharing vehicles — sporting white license plates to indicate private use — began services.

“We want to develop and expand the services nationwide to fill the transportation provider shortage,” Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Tetsuo Saito said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ride-sharing vehicles start services in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, on Monday.

Taxi companies including Tokyo-based Nihon Kotsu Co. started the services in partnership with ride-hailing apps. More than 60 people provided ride-sharing services on Monday, and about 50 customers, including groups, had purchased a ride within little more than an hour.

The services are available on days and at times when conventional taxis are in short supply. Kanagawa, Aichi and Kyoto prefectures will launch similar services soon, followed by Hokkaido, Osaka and six other prefectures in May.

The government is also considering letting businesses besides cab companies manage ride-sharing operations but plans to study this initial implementation of the services first, focusing on such issues as guaranteeing safety and securing enough drivers.