High taxi fares blamed on drivers’ wages

Taxi fares in Japan are about twice as high as those in other industrialized countries due to drivers’ high wages, the Transport Ministry said in a survey report June 4.

A daytime ride over a distance of 5 kilometers in Tokyo costs 2.1 times more than in Paris and 1.8 times more than in New York, the ministry said. The ministry surveyed public transport fares in the United States, Britain, Germany and France last October. The exchange rate used for the comparison was 112.40 yen to the dollar in the case of New York.

Bus fares for a 10-km ride in Tokyo were found to be 1.1 to 1.2 times higher than those in New York, London and Paris. Ministry officials said taxi fares are lower in other countries because low-paid immigrants account for a large portion of drivers, while bus services are subsidized.

The ministry also reported that bullet train passengers in Japan must pay 1.6 times more for a ride of between 300 km and 400 km than in France and 1.2 times more than in Germany. But regular air fares for a flight of 400 km to 800 km are 3.8 times higher in the U.S. than in Japan, the ministry said.