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New rules aimed at improving taxi service at airport

Date Posted: 2003-11-09

The list of complaints about rude taxi drivers in Okinawa is long and illustrious, but nowhere have complaints from customers been as pervasive as when it concerns taxis at the airport. To address this problem, representatives of Okinawa General Bureau and the Okinawa Taxi Business Association have met and talked, and both sides agree that steps need to be taken.

Currently, hundreds of taxis park at the parking lot outside the airport terminal at all hours waiting for customers. These waiting taxis are popularly called “homeless” as they don’t seem any other place to go.

Most of these taxis wait for customers who take long rides, and even refuse to service customers who want a ride to a destination within Naha City or other nearby areas. That, in fact, has been one of the most persistent complaints from the public. At the Oct. 31 meeting, the Taxi Association and the General Bureau agreed to set up new stricter rules taxis must follow.

According to the new rules, a driver who refuses to take a fare to a nearby destination, or whom customers have filed a legitimate complaint against for other reasons, would face a suspension of his taxi driving license. The new rules also close parking lots taxis have used while waiting for customers between midnight and 6 a.m. This rule took effect at Naha Airport on Nov. 1.

The association is planning to set up an internet-based taxi calling service to further improve the availability of taxis. Customers would access the service via their cell phones and, in addition to being able to order a taxi with the phone, they would also get information on the main service area of each member taxi company and information on the expected fare to their destination. Association officials envision the system going in operation from February.

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