In the north Tokyo Iwate Prefecture, taxi company Furusato Kotsu now provides the Sankyu pregnancy service for women’s pre-natal and birth hospital trips.
A growing trend among Japanese cities is specialized taxi services for pregnant women. Starting in 2012, midwives began working with taxi companies to enable them to provide the additional service. Now in the north Tokyo Iwate Prefecture, local taxi company Furusato Kotsu is offering the Sankyu service, which combines the Japanese words for childbirth and assistance.
Drivers taking part in the Sankyu service have had instruction from midwives on different methods for helping to make mothers-to-be more comfortable during the journey. The cars are also equipped with specific pregnancy packs that include towels and waterproof sheets in case labor starts on the way to the hospital. Local governments point to the potential cost savings from freeing up ambulances, and the general popularity of the offering, as reasons the service continues to expand.
Far from the days when pregnant women stayed out of the public eye, today expectant mothers have a number of special support services available, many of which focus on making public transport more accessible and comfortable. In the United Kingdom, a new app lets people with Bluetooth enabled smartphones to request and offer a seat. In South Korea, pregnant women can carry a sensor that wirelessly lights up an alert on city transport vehicles, letting fellow passengers know of her presence and possible need for a seat. What other city services could be slightly adjusted to improve their all-around accessibility and usability?