Role of taxi subsidy scheme as public service for mobility of elderly people in rural areas of Japan
Free (open access)
Volume 6 (2022), Issue 2
168 - 182
Ayiguli Aini, Hideo Yamanaka, Hirokazu Kato, Kaoru Ono
Public transportation in rural areas faces increasing challenges with increasingly aging populations. The elderly and disabled people who cannot drive by themselves highly rely on public transport for traveling. Therefore, to ensure the mobility needs for individual door-to-door services in depopulated areas with dispersed populations, several local authorities in Japan are implementing the taxi subsidy scheme (TSS) for the elderly. However, during the implementation, many issues relating to this policy, such as subsidy amount, usage time and number of distributed tickets, settings for target persons, and target area have been encountered. Based on this fact, we examined TSS from three perspectives: the local government that supports the policy with subsidy; small- and medium-sized taxi operators whose business management is influenced by TSS; and the elderly people with their outing status and TSS us- age status. Furthermore, based on the trends of national policies, we examined the effective utilization of TSS as a public mobility service for the elderly in rural areas. As a result, for local governments, the TSS was found to be widely known as a support for vulnerable groups and for those who have returned their licenses, and the burden on residents is often not a large expense. From the viewpoint of taxi operators, TSS has considerably contributed to business management. Additionally, many business op- erators want to increase the usage time and number of people eligible for subsidies. The elderly survey showed that TSS users use taxi for various purposes and are less likely to be influenced by high prices compared with non-TSS users. In other words, it is suggested that the TSS should be the “ideal public transportation” by narrowing down the target users and improving the service.
elderly mobility, rural areas, taxi subsidy scheme (TSS).