TOKYO: According to sources, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism plans to create a system utilising a smartphone app to match customers looking for a taxi around the same time, whose points of departure and destination are both close.
Since the taxi fare will be split between the parties, they will be able to use the taxi at a lower cost. The ministry will conduct a demonstration in Tokyo in fiscal 2017 and start the service in fiscal 2018 at the earliest.
The demonstration will be conducted using a smartphone app developed by taxi companies and others, according to the sources. Under the envisaged system, a user selects ride-sharing on the app and inputs the departure location and destination.
Then, the app will automatically match the user with another user trying to travel a similar route around the same time, and a taxi will pick them up separately.
In the test, the transportation ministry plans to examine how the taxi fare will be shared, among other issues.
The ministry believes that if the ride-sharing service becomes widespread, it will become easier to use a taxi when the demand increases due to, for example, the cancellation of train services or heavy rain. The ministry also believes the service will make it possible to transport many people effectively to events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and concerts, in which a large number of people go to the same destination.
The ministry plans to carefully examine the demand for the service in the demonstration to be conducted in Tokyo in fiscal 2017 and issue a notification as early as fiscal 2018 to allow taxi operators to start the new service.
Overseas, Uber Technologies Inc, a major US car dispatch service company, offers ride-sharing services in the United States.
As part of taxi service reforms, the ministry and the taxi industry plan to conduct in fiscal 2017 a separate demonstration of another service, in which users can check the taxi fare in advance as calculated by a smartphone app. — The Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN
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