Following on from the success of the 2012 Paralympics in London, Tokyo is using the model of London’s infamous black cabs to make their games as inclusive as possible. The Japanese government is hoping that visitors to the 2020 Tokyo Games who use wheelchairs will be able to enjoy the city and have an easier time getting around. Specially designed taxis are being used, with all drivers expected to be trained in their use and how best to assist wheelchair users, in time for the games.
The new universal design taxis look like those familiar to all Londoners who's cabbies have been accommodating wheelchair users for many years. However, like London’s cabs, these new vehicles are expensive to purchase, and operators are being offered subsidies if they also undertake the training.
The training is being matched by awards made to drivers who deliver good customer service to their customers who use a wheelchair.
However, in an already crowded city, the problems for wheelchair users will be congestion and the ability to move around safely in an already crowded space. Images of native Tokyo commuters being forcibly pushed onto train etc. is not something that would inspire a wheelchair user to contemplate.
Other than the introduction of the new taxis, we are still awaiting further details of public transportation improvements for wheelchair users who wish to visit Tokyo to enjoy the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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