Chapter 6 Development of Automobile Transport and Expansion of Public Transport Services

1. Dealing With Road Traffic Congestion

Motorization in Japan has now reached the stage of developmental maturity. In urban areas in particular, an increase in the use of personal cars has lead to serious road congestion.
The worsening in this environment has made it very difficult to maintain regular bus services, leading to a loss of faith in public transport, and public transport today does not fully satisfy user needs.
All government ministries and authorities concerned need to work together to promote measures to deal with the intensification of road congestion in urban areas, in line with the July 1988 decision made by the Japanese Government Office for Traffic Countermeasures.
The MOT is working towards improving traffic flow in major urban areas through a number of means:- establishing public transport facilities including railway and bus, and raising the quality of public transport services, rationalization of cargo distribution by establishing distribution facilities and shared distribution.
Further concrete measures need to be implemented to establish harmony between use of the personal car and public transport. Park and ride systems that fit with regional conditions should be introduced, and the the flow of vehicles other than buses and taxis in the vicinity of railway stations should be restricted during the morning rush hour.

2. Expansion of Automobile Passenger Transport

@ (1) There has been an alarming worsening of road conditions in urban areas accompanied by a drop in the quality of bus services, and in regional areas both the population has dropped and personal cars are being used increasingly. The environment in which buses operate needs to be improved and the quality of services also needs to be raised to satisfy the transport needs of people in regional areas.
Efforts are being made towards further activating bus transport in order to achieve these goals. The Public Safety Commissions of Tokyo, Hokkaido, and other Prefectures is working on the introduction of measures such as "bus-only" lanes in major metropolitan centers and large regional towns, and improvement of the quality of buses and bus stop facilities is being made.
In regional areas efforts are being made for establishing the independence of bus services so they become an effective mode of transport for local residents. In addition to offering recommendations for efforts towards establishing autonomy, a system for providing assistance has been organized aimed at improving the bus company business.
Measures are being made to maintain and increase the number of passengers through the introduction of flexible boarding and alighting of buses, and "demand" buses, which is expected to be reflected in improvements in business. Increasingly effective operation is also expected as a result of replotting of bus routes in line with regional needs.
@ (2) Taxis provide a degree of convenience and comfort that is not found in other forms of public transport and fulfill an important role in the daily lives and business activities of people in regional areas.
In regional areas, the "wagon taxi" was introduced in July 1991 responding to user needs; along with increases in the type of core-city type taxi pooling, the "Blue-Line Taxi" has been introduced, and in less populated areas "depopulation area type taxi pooling" has been introduced.
@ (3) In urban and surrounding areas late night buses (including express buses, and medium-distance buses), taxi pooling Blue Line taxis have been increased to satisfy the increase in demand for late night transport.

3. Activation of Trucking Business

The first revisions in 40 years to Trucking Business Law, were made on December 1, 1990. The revisions have been shown to be appropriate in light of the restrictive economic conditions that have continued since their implementation.
There have been no significant increases in the number of transport companies applying for registration in recent years due to sudden rises in land prices and a labor shortages. In the future, however, It is expected to provide a stimulus to the industry overall such as diverse increases in charges and the promotion of cooperative delivery.
Social restrictions, on the other hand, have become more rigid. There are now some 53 thousand licensed managers in the transport industry and measures are underway for structuring a system to ensure the appropriate approaches to operation by trucking businesses.
Problems surrounding the physical distribution system - labor shortages which have increased in recent years, traffic congestion due to increases in the numbers of deliveries, and car exhaust fumes (NOx) show the system calls for a review. Businesses operating today need to switch over to a more effective physical distribution system. The new system should take advantage of further mixed-loaded cargo and should provide effective and diverse services in line with a range in charge. (Fig48)

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