The Japanese Experience
Chapter 7: Local Bus
Both the public and private sectors supply local bus service in Japan. In terms of the number of bus operators, private bus operators are in the majority, accounting for 97% in 2007. The public sector, by way of the transportation bureaus of local governments, provides local bus services. Large local governments, such as the Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan governments, normally own both subway and local bus systems. Local bus services in Japan have been in continuous decline. The percentage of the national population using buses was 96.4 in 1970, 69.2 in 1980, 52.8 in 1990, 37.7 in 2000, and, according to the most recent available statistics, 33.6 in 2007. This steady decline is clearly attributable to the loss of market share to the private auto, and the downward trend is causing serious financial deficits in the bus industry. To address this problem, regulatory reform has been undertaken. Compared to reform measures taken in other public utility industries such as the railway industry, however, those taken in the bus industry have been mild.
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