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Toyo Bus Co. goes belly up, regular users worry

Date Posted: 2002-09-28

Woes of Okinawan bus companies don’t relent as Toyo Bus Co. that operates 17 long-distance lines in the prefecture declared a bankruptcy Sep. 20. Although the company continues to operate its lines, its future is uncertain, and it’s a cause to worry in many remote communities. Many people regard the bus company as their lifeline as it enables them to do their daily commuting to work, school and other business.

At a high school in Chinen reportedly about half of the students, or 550 of them, use Toyo Bus daily to commute. The principal of the school is clearly worried. “This is a big surprise. If this bus line closes down it’s a problem. Many students go home from after school activities as late as 8 p.m. and they cannot walk home,” he stated. Students at the school say that it takes 30 to 40 minutes by bus for some students to commute between the school and their home.

Chinen Village Mayor Shinko Shikiya urges prefecture officials to take action. “We have so many people using Toyo Bus lines including children and senior citizens who cannot drive themselves. In my opinion the prefecture should take some kind of action to ensure transportation services,” Shikiya said.

Company officials agree that there is a need for bus transportation, but he says that the number of customers was far below what is needed to make a profit. “No one can run a business that is in red year after year. It’s regrettable that we had to declare bankruptcy but we had no choice,” a spokesman for the company said. He added that company officials are continuing to negotiate with their creditors, banks and workers’ representatives about possible alternatives. “The future of the service depends on the course of action we decide to take,” he said.

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