Most people would actually like for a taxi to speed them along to their destination. In fact, speed may be one of the main reasons why you would take a taxi in the first place. But there are some in Japan who may not be in a hurry to arrive at their destination and would prefer a more leisurely ride. For these people, Sanwa Kotsu’s “Turtle Taxi” service is the preferred means of transportation, and the service is growing in popularity in Japan.
If a passenger happens to be a pregnant woman who would like to get to her destination minus the speed and the bumps, or if you just have time to burn ‘til your next meeting and you need a leisurely ride, Sanwa Kotsu’s “slow” cabs may be the perfect match. Sanwa Kotsu began its unique service in December 2013, designating 10 of the company’s 500 cabs as the “turtle taxis”. For these cabs, drivers were specifically told to accelerate and decelerate in a more gradual manner. They were also told to manage the centrifugal forces – as in, keep it to a minimum – when making turns. This is one of the reasons why a mother with a one-year-old child has repeatedly availed of the service. “The starts and stops are very smooth because there is no jarring movement,” she said. “It is perfect for those times when I don’t want to have my sleeping child woken up.”
When riding these “turtle taxis,” all the passenger has to do is to press the Yukkuri button provided in the passenger area. A musical chime and a plastic visual reminder will activate to remind both the driver and the passenger that this will be a slow drive, the visual reminder has an illustration of a turtle and the word Yukkuri, literally “slow” in Japanese, written on it. The service has been warmly welcomed by Japan’s growing number of senior citizens, as well as pregnant women who would naturally prefer a smoother ride. Since the Turtle Taxi service started, the operating company has seen a gradual 15-percent increase in the number of calls requesting specifically for a slow cab. The good reception means that Sanwa Kotsu can now look forward to expanding its service, with only 16 taxis mainly in the Yokohama area deployed as Turtle Taxis to date. The company is looking to introduce the system to all its cabs by next year, and offer the service in the urban centers of Tokyo, Kanagawa and Saitama.