Roomier ‘Blue Cabs’ to be added to Tokyo fleet ahead of 2020 Olympics

Kyodo

Many Tokyo taxi companies plan to introduce a dark indigo-colored minivan, with wider interior space than current models, beginning in October to offer a more comfortable ride ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, an industry association said.

The “Blue Cabs” are expected to eventually make up at least 20 percent of the total fleet of about 50,000 taxies in Tokyo, as the new Toyota Motor Corp. vehicle can better accommodate travelers with large baggage or people who use wheelchairs.

The new model boasts more back-seat legroom and, at around 170 centimeters, is taller than the current Crown Comfort model. The floor level of the vehicle is lower than the present model, allowing people to sit in their wheelchairs while riding in the taxi.

The appearance of the new taxis in indigo blue, a popular color in traditional Japanese textiles, “should change the mood of the capital overnight,” an official of the Tokyo Hire-Taxi Association, a group of around 400 taxi companies that decided to introduce the new vehicle, said.

“We believe foreign tourists will be pleased,” the official said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to offer close to ¥6 billion in subsidies for the vehicle change project because the new liquefied petroleum gas-electric hybrid taxi model boasts much improved fuel efficiency.