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Japan eases ridesharing restrictions on rainy days • The Register

Japan eases ridesharing restrictions on rainy days • The Register

Japan has loosened its ride-sharing rules to allow more passengers to use the services when it rains.

Japan resisted ridesharing until April this year, when it finally allowed taxi companies to operate the services – but only at certain times of day and with fares tied to those cabs would charge. In some places the hours of operation are very limited – a few hours during the day and then a few more from midnight into the wee small hours.

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism last week announced those hours will be extended. “When precipitation of 5mm or more per hour is forecast, it will be possible to use the Japanese ridesharing system during times when it was not previously possible,” it decreed.

The change in policy began on Monday July 1, recognizing that accessing buses or trains is harder than usual when rain is bucketing down – as often happens in Japan’s rainy season.

The Ministry will therefore allow up to twice the normal number of rideshare vehicles to be used in each business district around the time the rain occurs – but only if that coincides with times when the ridesharing was already allowed.

When it’s pouring down outside of the hours when ridesharing is allowed, only the usual limit on vehicles will be tolerated.

The move applies to Tokyo’s special wards, plus Yokohama, Kawasaki, Nagoya, Kyoto, Sapporo, Sendai, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka. Expansion to other areas will be considered in the future.

Ridesharing is currently allowed across 15 regions in Japan and, according to the Ministry, expansion to 32 regions is under consideration.

Japan eased its resistance to ridesharing as part of its response to a nation-wide labor shortage. The government reckoned taxi drivers were overloaded and could use the help from part-time gig workers with cars.

That labor shortage is in part thanks to Japan’s declining population and ageing workforce. The country has taken measures to prevent an epidemic of overwork by capping overtime hours for many job roles – including taxi and bus drivers.

However, by doing so, the country has had to endure reduced transport and delivery capacity, plus increased costs and prices.

Ride-hailing and related apps are not the only tech-based measure that the country has employed in order to combat a smaller workforce. Its efforts range from using AI to detect bears to crowdsourced infrastructure maintenance.

And last month, the City of Tokyo announced its plans to launch its own dating app – as part of an effort to boost the birth rate. ®

Japan eases ridesharing restrictions on rainy days • The Register

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