Competitors come together in effort to boost mobility innovation
Particularly in the field of public transportation, there are many issues such as a chronic shortage of drivers, traffic congestion and commuter rush hours on trains in urban districts. Rural areas face the issues of sustaining public transportation networks and diminishing travel range among residents.
However, if introduction and use of autonomous taxis and buses operated through an on-demand basis via reservations by passengers were to progress, it could replace the conventional public transportation services as the means of transport for local citizens. It could also spur local travel demand.
Local municipalities have such expectations, prompting them to cooperate on a variety of trials toward introducing new mobility services across the country, in addition to moves to put MaaS apps into practical use.
Denno Kotsu Inc. is a company based in Tokushima that works on taxi dispatch systems. Teaming up with NTT Docomo Inc., the company conducted a trial in the Ato area of Yamaguchi Prefecture in March to explore needs for on-demand taxis.
“Many people had little hesitation in sharing a taxi as most of them were familiar each other, so it turned out that the demand for sharing a taxi was more than we expected, and the supply of taxis was not enough to satisfy the large demand,” Denno Kotsu President Yosuke Kondo said of the results from the trial.
Kondo added, “Establishing the foundation for data collaboration through self-transformation of the taxi industry, which dispatches cabs via radio and writing notes in logs, would be one step in the MaaS effort.”
Start of a new challenge
The government has also began to make moves in the face of MaaS increasingly expanding in Japan.
In April, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism jointly launched the Smart Mobility Challenge project to support regions and companies that are striving to resolve mobility issues and work on local revitalization through social implementation of new mobility services.
The project aims to broaden the base of parties engaging in MaaS efforts through the sharing of relevant information and advanced undertakings, as well as encouraging collaboration among companies and municipalities.