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Rush to beat limits land taxi operators in jam

Date Posted: 2002-10-12

A new law that took effect in February reforming the rules on establishing taxi businesses has proven to be too much for Okinawa. So many people established a new taxi business and old taxi companies brought so many new cars into service that the National Land Agency Traffic Section revoked the law in Okinawa and degreed a one-year moratorium on establishing new taxi services or increasing the number of cars taxi companies operate. The moratorium took effect on Sep. 1.

In their rush to grab market share some existing companies clearly bit more that they could chew. One such company reportedly bought and registered 200 new taxicabs before the deadline only to discover that they are unable to find enough drivers to get the cars on road. Another bought 100 cars that have been gathering dust in a garage ever since. And there’s even a company that spent so much on new cars that it reportedly ran out of money to run the business.

At the same time because of the prolonged economic slump, demand for taxi services has been on the decline for some time. Taxis in Okinawa generate on average only a third of the money taxis elsewhere in Japan do.

Officials at Okinawa General Bureau say that Okinawa has 4.1 taxis per 1,000 residents. The number is second only to Tokyo. Okinawa Prefecture Taxi Association Chairman Takeshi Akamine says that their goal is to reduce the number of taxis operating in Okinawa by 20 percent. “That’s the only way to balance the demand and make taxi business profitable,” he said in a recent interview.

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