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Efforts of Sanko Taxi 1-15-21 Mukodai-cho, Nishitokyo, Tokyo
Eliminating barriers and being considerate of our customers' feelings
Our goal is to provide exciting, impressive experiences to everyone
Sanko Taxi, which runs a community-based taxi business in Nishitokyo, started introducing welfare vehicles in 2000, an early stage. Part of the company's vision is to act as a city adviser, and the company does not limit its efforts to taxis as a method of transportation. Instead, the company also responds to the desire of people-including elderly and physically disabled people-to be excited by offering custom-made tours that provide impressive experiences and make assistance available. Eiichiro Machida, the CEO, talked to us about the company's specific efforts.
Introducing service in anticipation of future needs starting in 2000
In 2000, we started providing Welcab-vehicle service because we considered doing so necessary to respond to customer needs as a local taxi company given that the use of taxis as a transportation method is expected to increase. To achieve this, a total of six company employees-including myself-obtained helper (care worker) level 2 certification. At the time, hardly any of our drivers had this certification. Currently, however, there are over 20 drivers at our company who have obtained helper level 2 certification. Due to their specialized knowledge, they are trusted not only by users but by hospitals as well.
After that-due to our expectation that there would be an increase in demand for vehicles that can be ridden by people in wheelchairs-we started providing universal-taxi-design service in 2006. Our current service includes 13 Welcab vehicles and three universal-design taxis. One of the Welcab vehicles is an Esquire, an electric Welcab that can seat up to seven people. In addition, one of our universal-design taxis is a JPN TAXI.
When we first started providing this service, we only had around 70 users per year, but we currently have over 200 users per month, a considerable increase. There is a lot of demand for universal-demand taxis in particular, and such taxis had been used a total of 41418 times as of the end of January 2019. These taxis are used not only to go to the hospital but also to go drinking and for other daily affairs.
Utilizing both in-house and company-external knowledge and experience to provide original service
For a fee, in addition to helping customers get into our taxis, we provide monitoring assistance. For example, when a customer leaves the hospital, we can have one of our drivers accompany the customer from the hospital room and provide support to help them get where they're going.
In addition, to respond to the desire of customers to be excited, our in-house tour planners set up original tours, drive, and act as guides. In the case of elderly and physically disabled people, we also offer assistance so that anyone can participate. When setting up tours, we rely on the advice of specialists. For example, in the case of a tour that involved traveling with a pet, we discussed the points to note with someone at a veterinary hospital, and, when visiting a shrine on another tour, we had the chief priest there provide guidance. Many of our drivers have diverse career backgrounds-including former tour conductors and wedding planners-and we take full advantage of this kind of experience as well.
One especially impressive episode was when a partially paralyzed person in their 40s, who lived in a facility, contacted us with a request indicating that they wanted to go shopping. More specifically, they wanted to go shopping at a department store at which they used to work, and meet with one of their colleagues at the time. The impressive thing about this was the surprisingly wonderful smile she showed us, and even the people at the facility were amazed at her smile when we went back. In fact, she ended up becoming repeat customers after that.
What we really want to provide isn't just a means of transportation to get people from point A to point B. We want to provide the sorts of deeply hospitable, impressive experiences that AI (artificial intelligence) cannot offer. There are always barriers here and there, and we think it is important to be able to smoothly deal with them.
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