Cabs are probably one of the industries most affected by the Corona disaster. The average annual salary of drivers in Tokyo in 2008 was estimated at 3.38 million yen, a devastating drop of about 1.5 million yen from the previous year. However, even under such a critical situation, there are some “brilliant” drivers who are making a stable income and surviving the Corona disaster.
Mr. Yasushi Nakayama (pseudonym, in his 50s), who works for a major cab company, was a top driver with an annual income of over 10 million yen before the Corona disaster. After the Corona disaster, his annual income was reduced by about 30%, but he still maintains a high level of income.
He says, “I am able to earn money because of my ‘big customers. In other words, it’s the customers who nominate me for rides. I personally have about 200 “big customers”.
Mr. Nakayama’s main area of business is Minato and Chuo wards, where there are many wealthy people.
He says he gives his business card to more than 90% of his customers. “I talk to 100 people and only about three become my customers. The most difficult part of cab business is to find good customers who use the service regularly. You just can’t tell, so in the end you have to shoot a few. The accumulation of such steady activities shows up in the numbers in the cab business.
Mr. Masao Yoshida (pseudonym, in his 60s), a private cab driver, also maintains a high income by having a large number of customers. Masao Yoshida (pseudonym, in his 60s), a private taxi driver, also maintains a high income by having a large clientele. He says that the Corona disaster has changed the purpose of passengers.
“There has been a clear increase in the use of the train for hospital visits. Many people from Kamakura and Chiba call me when they need to go to Keio Hospital or other major hospitals in Tokyo. Also, commuting demand from large corporations has grown. In this day and age, even in large corporations, only the executive class is provided with a company shuttle. We don’t have a shuttle service, but the number of department heads who don’t want to take the risk of infection by taking the train is clearly increasing with the Corona disaster.
Mr. Yoshida’s cab is an Alphard. Mr. Yoshida’s taxi is an Alphard, which is very useful for customers who want to take a relaxing ride because many car rental apps do not allow you to specify the type of vehicle. In addition to this, the best drivers make every effort to attract “big customers” by leaving newspapers and magazines in the cab according to customers’ preferences.
On the other hand, drivers who used to wait for customers at train stations and other places are now facing a harsh reality. The number of corporate cabs in operation has been drastically reduced, and many drivers have been forced to close their businesses.
The question is whether or not the unprecedented crisis of the Corona disaster can be overcome. The key to overcoming the unprecedented crisis of the Corona disaster may be the business efforts of individual drivers.
From the October 1, 2021 issue of FRIDAY
Reporting and writing： Shimei Kurita (Author of "Surviving the Corona Disaster: Survival in the Taxi Industry")