The slow movement originated almost 30 years ago in Italy as a form of protest against McDonalds opening a branch in the heart of Rome. The cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better began with food but has since spread to a vast array of sub-categories like slow fashion, slow art and slow education. Now, the Japanese are embracing the cultural shift toward slowing down the pace of life and applying it to taxis.
The Sanwa Koutsu taxi company, which primarily operates in and around Yokohama and Tokyo, recently began rolling out Turtle Taxis. If you’re not in a hurry, are pregnant, are feeling queasy, or have any other reason you want your taxi to slow down, simply push the turtle button located in the passenger seat. This activates a turtle mark on the outside of the cab indicating to other drivers that the car is driving slowly. “Drivers have had special training, and provide not only slow driving but also a safer and more comfortable drive than usual for their passengers,” explains the company.
The service began in December of last year and so far the taxis have traveled at turtle’s pace for over 10,000 km. The eco-driving, as the company calls it, “is achieved by driving without sudden acceleration or sudden stopping.” It’s better for the environment because it improves fuel efficiency, but it also saves on gas prices.
But the company has found that it’s good for business in other ways too. According to a poll conducted by IMJ, the branding and advertisement agency responsible for the campaign, contrary to popular belief taxi riders are not always in a hurry. In fact, 76% of people polled said that they’ve wanted their cab driver to slow down. And the new turtle service is showing up in the company’s numbers too. Sanwa Koutsu reported that they say a 113% increase in call compared to a year earlier.
I don’t know about your city, but New York taxis could certainly learn a thing or two from slowing down.