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Bus, taxi operators claim monorail taking customers

Date Posted: 2003-08-30

The train is attracting plenty of customers, and bus and taxi companies are crying foul. After two weeks in operation, the new Okinawa monorail line is still carrying over 50,000 passengers per day, and local bus and taxi companies complain that most of those people are from them.

Naha taxi operators claim that their customer count has been down 10 percent since the monorail started operations on Aug. 10. They say tourists from mainland are using the monorail instead of a taxi to get to Shuri Castle or rental car company from the airport.

Bus companies operating routes within Naha City say that the number of their customers is down 12~16 percent, and even long-distance bus companies claim that they carry about 10 percent fewer passengers than before the monorail started.

Before the monorail began running, city planners had urged the bus companies to switch to new routes in Oroku and Omoromachi, but the bus operators say that the new passengers have not materialized.

There is also the dispute between the bus companies, Naha City and the prefecture. The city and the prefecture had paid the bus companies Y1.7 billion in compensation for expected loss of customers. The payment was made on condition that the bus companies would not compete on the same routes with the monorail. Although the monorail has begun operations, the bus companies refuse to stop or switch routes, claiming that they depend on those routes for their survival.

The prefecture and the city are now demanding that the bus operators pay the money back, but the bus companies say that they have already spent the money and are not able to return it. And, they add, if they are forced to stop the routes that compete with monorail, they definitely are not able to return the money.

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