If you’re staying in Tokyo for a while, you may know that there are many ways to get by – bus, train, and subway, to name a few. But did you know that traveling by taxi is probably the most economical choice when it comes to shorter distances? Taxis are also useful if you’d like to get to your destination from the nearest station as fast as you can.
Recently, the base fare in Tokyo has dropped to almost 40% of the original rate. The first two kilometers would usually cost you 700-730 yen before but now, up to 1.052 kilometers will only cost you 410 yen. It makes this form of transportation a cheaper and convenient way to get around Tokyo or travel short distances.
Conventionally speaking, taxis in Tokyo have been used mainly by business people. It is fairly easy to spot a taxi in Tokyo.
In the center of the city, you usually don’t have to wait longer than a minute to spot one heading towards you. Drivers are well-dressed in clean cut uniforms but most of them do not speak English. You can hail one by waving or holding up your hand on the sidewalk. Remember that the door will automatically open before you get in.
To prevent a communication barrier, it is best to write down the complete address of your destination so you can get there without any trouble. Some taxi drivers have a GPS to properly locate the venue you want to go.
A vacant taxi displays a light on top of the car, while an occupied one displays no light. Once you’ve reached your destination, you can just say “koko desu” meaning “It is here”. You can pay the taxi driver through cash or credit card, though cash is preferable. Some taxis also accept Suica travel cards.
The taxi industry in Japan has continuously seen a decline in the number of customers. This is because of its pricey nature for short-distance travelers and the availability of cheaper means of transportation, such as the bus or subway. Taxis in Tokyo are even more expensive than in New York and London.
To remedy this, a drop in base fare was implemented to encourage people to use more taxis for shorter distances. However, this is not ideal for long trips as the rate will roll at a rate of 80 yen for every 237 meters of travel. Shorter trips will become cheaper, while longer trips will become more expensive.
The change will not lower the revenue of taxi drivers as long-distance travelers will help compensate the shorter rides. Many of the taxi drivers in Tokyo have been urging the government to lower the base fare since April of 2016. A trial was conducted from April to September to gauge the number of people who would use taxis if the price was lowered. 80% of foreign nationals stated that 410 yen is cheap or affordable for the first 1.052 km travel.
Though the base fare is now cheaper, the price per distance has also been changed. So you have to be wise in using the taxi when it comes to longer distances. It would be best for you to use a taxi if your travel distance is 6.5km or less. Anything over that will be more expensive. If you travel as a group and you don’t want to be lost during your travel, then it is advisable to use the taxi in Tokyo. Take note of the changes and have fun!