* New service in Japan lets riders enjoy silence
* Drivers only talk if you do first
* Program introduced in March and could expand to America
You step inside a cab, exchange pleasantries with the driver, and immediately have that awkward moment. Do you keep the conversation going? Are you expected to respond if the driver initiates talk? What if you just wanted to be left alone and enjoy your ride in silence?
A new company based out of Kyoto, Japan, has introduced a new service known as Silence Taxis. A sign on the passenger seat headrest lets riders know that the only words to be exchanged with the driver are a greeting and route confirmation, except for emergencies. The goal: to make taxi rides less awkward, since both parties are on the same page before the car even starts moving.
This service is currently in a trial stage, but the company, Miyako Taxi, says they hope to create an “in-car atmosphere that provides the most comfortable ride for passengers through limiting the driver’s speaking.”
Until now, Miyako Taxi has not had any policy about conversation with passengers. While some passengers enjoy chatting with a driver, like tourists who are curious about Kyoto’s sightseeing attractions, other passengers (like city residents) may just want to ride in silence.
It’s good to note that Silence Taxi drivers are only prohibited from starting a conversation. The ball is entirely in the passenger’s court. So if you’re in Kyoto and feel chatting while riding in one of Miyako Taxi’s new silent cars, all you have to do start the conversation yourself.
Right now, Miyako Taxi has five Silence Taxis chauffeuring riders around Kyoto. They’ve been testing the program since late March. Once the company has adequate feedback from customers, they’ll make a decision as to how they should extend or expand the program.