Japan to Survey Bus, Taxi Firms to Resolve Driver Shortages

REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
A man walks past taxis parked on the road in Tokyo, Japan June 2, 2017.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Toursim Ministry plans to conduct an area-by-area survey to examine business and working conditions at bus and taxi operators in fiscal 2024.

Based on the survey results, the ministry will consider measures to help the companies improve their operations and resolve driver shortages in order to ensure that transportation is available even in underpopulated areas.

The ministry included ¥31 million in related expenses in its budget request for the year starting next April.

The business conditions at bus and taxi operators are becoming increasingly severe due to the country’s shrinking population.

The number of taxi drivers, including those self-employed, fell to 209,131 in fiscal 2022 after peaking at 428,303 in fiscal 2004. The number of route bus drivers, which once exceeded 100,000, stood at 74,340 in fiscal 2021.

In the planned survey, the ministry will analyze incomes, expenditures and debts of bus and taxi operators by region.

The ministry will also check the number of drivers and their working hours after overtime regulations come into effect in April 2024, in order to see whether bus schedules and work shifts will be influenced.

In addition, the ministry will examine the effects of measures to help make up for labor shortages through the use of digital technology such as cashless payments and ride-hailing apps.