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What is the local government running the show anyway? May 23, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Overseas, technology.
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From NaviGadget (via TRENDS): Cabbies striking in Philly

My question is, what is the local government (Philadelphila Parking Authority) doing supervising taxis anyway? It seems like a really inefficient way to offer cab services in a city.

GPS seems to make a lot of sense for cab companies who need to allocate cars to call-in customers, or to optimise coverage. Lots of cab companies in Tokyo now have GPS in their cars. Many Tokyo cabbies also need GPS because many of them are recent job migrants from outside Tokyo and have no clue about getting from A to B. Problem with GPS based route navigation is that the recommended routes are virtually all on the major roads which get clogged up. Why do I have to teach cabbies the back routes, and pay full price for the ride? Because it would be more expensive (both in terms of money and time) if I let the cabbies take the congested arterial roads? 

I'd call for a Tokyo version of The Knowledge to be made mandatory. That and basic manner lessons for some of the cabbies, too.

On the theme of local government providing transport services, what is with busses operated by local authorities? These bus drivers paid a bit too much, me thinks. Ditto for refuse collection. As members of the public sector, they get paid way too much compared to the private sector. Does it really make sense for a refuse collector to be getting paid $80k a year?  Ah, the life of a public sector worker. Decent pay, short hours, job security.

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Comments»

1. gme - May 24, 2006

I find that the GPS goes largely unused in most of the Tokyo cabs that have it fitted. Uncharitably, I tend to think that the general lack of expertise on the part of the driver suggests that operating a navigation system would be beyond them. The only qualification for driving a cab seems to be having a driving license.

Nihon Kotsu and Kokusai Motors seem somewhat better in terms of politeness, geographical knowledge and driving skills, but the majority score badly on all counts. I would be happy even to get across to the general populace of taxi drivers the message that the brake and accelerator are not on-off switches and that cornering at speed with one hand on the wheel is rarely a pleasant experience for your passenger.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile for a taxi company to take the initiative and introduce a Knowledge-like program for its own drivers? It would be a means of differentiation in an increasingly crowded market, but the costs might well be prohibitive.

Alternatively, a system of discounts if the passenger has to give directions might work 🙂 I’ve thought more than once of demanding one from drivers when they spin me the line about having just landed from Gunma and not knowing where major landmarks are.

2. fukumimi - May 24, 2006

Basic driving lessons would indeed be a good idea for many cabbies.

MK Taxis are usually pretty good.
The kojin taxis are also good (mostly – there have been one or two with an attitude problem), they need to have been a taxi driver for years before they can go private so they actually have a clue about driving in Tokyo, have better pricing (only 20% rather than30% surcharge after 11pm, or discounts over x thousand yen) they usually drive nicer cars (there is an E-Class Merc kojin taxi running about Tokyo, amongst others).

I have GPS/Sat-Nav in the car, but usually I don’t bother programming the thing when driving around central Tokyo. But having VICS traffic (and roadworks, accidents, etc) data displayed on the map is great for avoiding jammed up major routes. The big roads are quicker when traffic is light, but they are a nightmare when there are roadworks.

A very nice kojin taxi driver (driving a current Toyota Crown) I met taking a trip home in the dead of the night gave me his card with his cellphone number on it. No, he wasn’t trying to pick me up (at least not in that sense of the word – I think…), he apparently has a bunch of regulars who reserve his cab for stuff like trips to the airport. It is indeed nicer to travel in a nice new car than a 25 year old Toyota Crown. He said he does discount rates for longer trips too. Can’t find the card though. bummer.


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