As a result of deregulation, 88 taxi companies in Tokyo, Chiba, Okayama, Hiroshima and Tokushima on Apr. 1 reduced their minimum fares to between 330 yen and 410 yen for the first kilometer.

Some 4,590 taxis in those five prefectures are now offering lower initial fares, according to the Transport Ministry. Ministry officials and taxi companies hope that the lower initial charge will boost the number of people who travel by taxi.

In Tokyo, about 100 taxis from 17 companies that revised their minimum fare of 650 yen for the first 2 km to 340 yen for the first 1 km, including Hinomaru Kotsu, took part in ceremonies at Tokyo’s Meiji Park before beginning operations. According to the newly introduced fare system, an additional 80 yen will be charged for every 250 meters after the first kilometer.

With the introduction of a higher consumption tax, other taxi companies have raised their initial fares to 660 yen from 650 yen for the first 2 km. Privately owned taxis, however, will maintain the initial fare of 650 yen.

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