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Friday, March 7, 2008

New cab stand boasts capital service

Staff writer

Had a bad taxi experience? Then try a new cab stand that opened Thursday at JR Shinbashi Station's east exit.

News photo
A passenger gets into a taxi operated by a certified "excellent" driver at a new stand in Shinbashi, Tokyo, on Thursday. SATOKO KAWASAKI PHOTO

Tokyo Taxi Centre's new Maru Yu (mark of excellence) Taxi Stand only allows 8,700 designated drivers to use it, about one-tenth of all of the capital's cabbies, an official said.

It is the first such taxi stand in Japan, he said.

"All Tokyo taxis are good," said Toshiaki Nakayama, an official of Tokyo Taxi Centre. But "we responded to passengers' wishes to be driven by even higher quality drivers," he said.

Every year, the center certifies excellent drivers, who must meet a number of strict criteria. For example, they must not have broken the Road Traffic Law, had any accidents or received any customer complaints of poor service or overcharging.

Certified drivers place yellow signs on their dashboards, with the numbers 10, 20 or 30 indicating the number of years of excellent service, the official said.

The All Japan Owner-Driver Taxi Association also certifies superior taxi drivers, who must have provided passengers with the highest quality service and not have violated the traffic law. The association's certified drivers have three star signs with the word "Masters" displayed on top of their taxis.

The new Shinbashi stand is indicated by a green sign with an encircled kanji meaning excellence. On the stand's first day of service, taxis were often unavailable because passenger demand was so great, prompting officials to urge riders to take nondesignated ones instead.

Passengers welcomed the new stand.

Mieko Hattori, 48, a health foods company president in Aichi Prefecture, said she had had a bad experience with taxis. Six or seven years ago, her cab collided with a car while she was in a hurry, making her late. Recalling that experience, Hattori said, "it is great to be able to choose a good taxi."

She said she hopes to see more of these stands elsewhere. The center said if the new stand proves popular, it may set up more around Tokyo.

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The Japan Times

Article 4 of 13 in National news

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