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Bus company refuses monorail route changes

Date Posted: 2003-07-11

A financially troubled bus company is refusing to adjust its routes to provide feeder service to the new monorail scheduled to begin service in August. Management at Naha Kotsu bus company say they will not honor an agreement made in 1994 with Okinawa Prefecture and Naha City officials. According to the agreement, the bus company would change its routes once the monorail is completed and begins regular operations.

The route changes would provide for smooth and effective monorail operation, as traffic planners sought to avoid bus companies being in direct competition for customers. Instead, they envisioned that the buses would feed customers to monorail stations from outside areas wherever practical.

Naha Kotsu management now insists that its current financial situation makes it impossible for them to change their routes to serve monorail stations as planned. Instead, they say that they want to continue driving their current routes, even if it means they would be in direct competition with the monorail. “We are in dire need of cash, and must make our planning accordingly, regardless what the monorail wants to do,” an official at Naha Kotsu said. “It s not fair for city and prefecture officials to worry only about the well being of their monorail,” he stated.

Prefecture officials disagree. “We made a valid contract and even paid Naha Kotsu ¥1.7 billion as an estimated compensation for the loss of passengers. If they break the agreement they have to return the money,” a prefecture spokesman said.

Still, Naha Kotsu insists that the situation has changed drastically since the agreement was made. “We are currently preparing to file for protection from creditors under the corporate rehabilitation law, in other words, we are bankrupt. How can we return the money in such circumstances? We would like to take the case to the court and hear their decision,” Naha Kotsu spokesman insists.

Naha City is not happy with Naha Kotsu’s actions. “We would be very upset if Naha Kotsu does not follow the agreement we made in 1994. The bus companies and the monorail must work together to ensure good service for citizens. I hope their management understands this and keep the promise,” Naha City Mayor Takeshi Onaga says.

The prefecture intends to stand firm. “If Naha Kotsu does not agree to keep the contract by August 10, we will request that they return the money immediately,” the prefecture spokesman insists.

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