Some of the busiest train stations in central Tokyo began a trial run of a stroller rental service Thursday, in hope of attracting families with small children who want to enjoy outings without having to worry about carrying a buggy onto crowded trains.
The service is being offered by East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, and is available through Oct. 20. It will allow people to reserve strollers via phone for ¥500 ($4.60) a day at Tokyo, Shinagawa, Shinjuku and Ueno stations, the company said. The four are major hub stations in the capital and have a number of shopping and dining complexes in and around them.
A service location at Tokyo Station will operate daily, while the others will be open on weekends and holidays. The service at Shinagawa Station will also be available on Fridays.
A total of 21 strollers from baby products company Pigeon Corp. will be used.
The idea was proposed when the wife of an employee working for an affiliate of JR East wondered why a service commonly found in department stores was not available at train stations, the company said. It was picked from over 1,000 ideas for new business development.
“It’s difficult to ride and get off trains with a stroller,” said Sae Kuratani, 32, who was in Tokyo Station en route to Ueda, Nagano Prefecture, with her 3-year-old and 9-month-old children.
“I would like to use it as I would be able to go shopping in Marunouchi or take a walk around the Imperial Palace,” she said, referring to a district near the station.
“It would be convenient if there were a lot of places to return them.”
The company conducted a trial run of free stroller rentals at Tachikawa Station, on the outskirts of Tokyo, in July. A survey found everyone that used the service had indicated they would use it again.
Other feedback included a preference for an advance reservation system and the ability to use the leased strollers outside of the station.
There are leasing services within some stations that house shopping complexes. But a company official said the firm had received “requests for their use to be allowed at commercial facilities nearby.”