System allows for pets to ride with their owners or by themselves.
Taxi operations isn’t generally considered to be a “creative” industry, but it’s hard to think of a more apt description for Sanwa Kotsu. Based in Yokohama, but also servicing Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, Sanwa doesn’t just offer plain vanilla taxi service. Its drivers can also take you on a late-night tour of purportedly haunted locations, and it’s also the same company that adapted traditional Japanese horseback archery to a modern taxi ride-equivalent.
Sanwa’s latest innovation may not be as playful in spirit, but it’s definitely filling an important need. With so many people in Japan relying on public transportation, it can be hard for pet owners to go places with their animal companions. Trains and taxis generally require animals be placed in carrier cages, something that’s difficult to do given the vehicles’ frequently crowded or cramped conditions.
As an alternative, next month Sanwa will be starting a fleet of Pet Taxis. Featuring spacious interiors, they allow owners of dogs and cats to ride in the back seat without placing the animals into cages, provided, of course, that they’re calm enough so as to not interfere with the driver’s ability to operate the car.
Two different body styles will be used as Pet Taxis: a sedan for small and mid-size pets, and a wagon that can accommodate larger ones. The latter also features a rear loading ramp in case you’re bringing along a carrier or any other bulky items your pet may need once you reach your destination.
And if you’re thinking a car used exclusively to transport pets is going to smell and look terrible, you’ll be happy to know that the cars are thoroughly cleaned and deodorized every day, and also equipped with air purifiers to help keep the cabin as sanitary as possible.
Along more serious lines, Sanwa will also be offering what it calls its Pet 119 service, a reference to the 119 telephone number for emergency services in Japan. By registering your pet’s regular medical provider with Sanwa, the company can be called on to quickly transport the animal to its veterinarian if it needs urgent care. It’s even possible, for an additional fee, for pets to travel on their own, without being accompanied by their owner, via the Pet Taxi and Pet 119 systems.
Given the specific nature of the service being provided, use of the Pet Taxis requires a prior reservation, and you’ll also need to register through Sanwa’s website here. The Pet Taxis go into service October 1, and are sure to be a boon as Japan’s pet population ages and needs more frequent medical care.