Cab firms to slash minimum fares April 1

In the hope of attracting more customers, four Tokyo-based taxi companies jointly announced Feb. 14 that they plan to reduce their minimum fares to 340 yen from the current 650 yen, starting April 1.

Taking its name from tamagotch, the popular key-ring game produced by Bandai Co., Tokyo Condor taxi, one of the four companies, said it plans to put a “tamagotch taxi” sign on its cabs’ roofs to make its cheaper taxis stand out from the others operating in Tokyo. The other three firms — Hinomaru Kotsu, Eastern Motors and Miyazono Jidosha — are studying the possibility of adopting the same name, the heads of the three firms said.

The objective of the tamagotch game, which is proving especially popular among teenagers, is to rear a hatched chick. The player must constantly take care of the virtual pet to raise a full-grown chicken. “In the hope that customers will not leave our taxis alone and instead take very good care of them, we plan to adopt the name and install tamagotch taxi signs,” said Hisashi Iwata, president of Tokyo Condor Taxi, based in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward.

Hinomaru Kotsu, which initially sought to introduce a 100 yen fare for the first 250 meters, scrapped its plan after opposition from its drivers. Currently, the minimum taxi fare charged by all taxi companies in the Tokyo area is 650 yen for the first 2 km.