TOKYO -- Taxis operating in the Tokyo metropolitan area cut short-trip fares by as much as 44% on Monday. The aim is to attract more elderly passengers and foreign tourists in hopes of revitalizing the struggling industry.
The base fare went from 730 yen ($6.35) for the first 2km to 410 yen for the first 1.052km. Taxis then charge 80 yen for every 237 meters on top of the base fare. That means the total fare will be higher than it was prior to the change for trips of more than 6.5km.
The new fares are being applied across Tokyo's 23 wards, which include most of the capital's major tourist attractions. Two neighboring cities are also included.
According to data from the Tokyo Hire-Taxi Association, the area's total taxi revenue in fiscal 2015, which ended in last March, was 370 billion yen -- 14% lower than in 2005.
Too boost usage, the transport authority and the taxi industry concluded taxis need to target more passengers making short trips. They see foreign tourists who are unfamiliar with Tokyo's complex public transport network as potential users.
Moreover, according to an estimate by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo's population aged 65 and over reached 3 million for the first time last year. Taxi operators believe setting low short-trip fares will encourage elderly customers to use their services for more day-to-day trips like shopping or hospital visits.
Tokyo subway fares start at 170 yen per trip, while the metropolitan bus charges a flat fare of 210 yen per trip within the 23 wards.