Media Mix, June 17, 2018

Here’s this week’s Media Mix about elderly drivers. I mention that some local governments have tried to address the problem by providing transportation services for seniors who give up their cars, but I didn’t go into detail. This is a problem in my area. We live in the middle of an agricultural area that is not far from a large suburban zone in Chiba Prefecture. Cars are very necessary here and public transportation is very sparse. The city bus that passes closest to our house only comes five times a day in either direction, and even when you order a taxi you may have to wait up to an hour for one to show up unless you order it, like, a day in advance. There just aren’t that many operating in the area. Consequently, older people—and there are a lot where we live—are compelled to keep their licenses and drive everywhere. Personally, I think Uber would do very well out here, or something like Uber, but from what I understand the various taxi industry associations have successfully kept Uber and other ride-sharing businesses out of Japan. Uber’s presence in Japan is as a partner with taxi companies, who use their app and actually charge more for the service, so Uber is thought of (and advertised as) something for people of means. Of course, a complete bus service is what our area and, I imagine, many rural areas in Japan really need, even if it loses money. That’s what local government is for. But if they want something that is more business-oriented, they should look into ride-sharing schemes, even if it’s only available to seniors. Otherwise, it is very difficult to make people give up their cars once their capabilities start to dim.

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