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- Efforts of Takaotozan Railway Co., Ltd.
Efforts of Takaotozan Railway Co., Ltd. 2205 Takao-machi, Hachioji, Tokyo
Public transportation solutions that start with the site
Thinking about and sharing information on the site to form an approach
Takaotozan Railway started operating in 1927 to help worshippers get to Yakuoin Temple, which is on Mount Takao. To safely transport all of its customers, the company has each of its employees think about the site as opposed to relying on a manual in order to come up with various ways to get rid of transportation barriers and "do whatever is necessary to transport customers." Shinya Machida, the station manager, and Masaru Misu, the acting manager of the Railway Department Engineering Section, talked to us about the company's specific efforts.
Getting rid of steps by using equipment handmade by employees
In December 2008, when we renewed our railroad cars, we set up boards to get rid of cable-car steps. Until then, we dealt with wheelchairs by having employees lift them, but wheelchairs are heavy, and some customers don't like having them carried around. While we were discussing the possibility of a better approach, one of the employees proposed the idea of using boards.
We used plywood to try making various prototypes. Plywood is light, easy to carry, and flexible, so it fits well as a step and makes it possible to smoothly move wheelchairs.
Efforts starting before revisions to the Barrier-Free Law
In March 2008, we also installed an elevator. Therefore, customers can get off a cable car and then immediately use an elevator to go up. However, because it is necessary to go through a ticket gate on the return trip, we have customers who need assistance talk to the staff.
After we installed the elevator, we started receiving fewer inquiries about whether people in wheelchairs can use our facilities. When we do receive such inquiries, we inform the customer that we have an elevator, so there is nothing for them to worry about.
Our ticket gates are also wide enough for wheelchairs to pass though. This was true well before the revisions to the Barrier-Free Law in 2016. Even before the revisions, customers in wheelchairs informed us that the ticket gates were narrow, which made them inconvenient, so we felt the need to make them wider early on. We had a chance to do so when we repaired our floors, so we went ahead and improved our ticket gates as well.
In 2007, we were selected by Michelin, and our number of users increased as a result, including both disabled people and foreigners. Our trains are used by disabled people of all sorts. However, given that we operate on a mountain, hardly any customers in wheelchairs show up alone. In addition, we use written communication to deal with hearing-impaired customers, and we have prepared notes for this purpose.
Because only two wheelchair users can board our trains at once, we explain the situation and have customers wait in the case of groups and other situations where there are more than two wheelchairs being used.
Working to provide the education necessary for everyone to provide the same service
Our customers from overseas are increasing, and we have a lot of customers from China and Taiwan in particular. We have received feedback indicating that foreign-language support is necessary, so we opened an English-conversation classroom in spring of 2018 to enable our employees to use at least the minimum level of English. In addition, the signs at our ticket office include four languages.
As part of the education of our company's employees, we are encouraging employees to take a Care Fitter certification acquisition course. Currently, three people have obtained this certification. Employees who have taken the course then become in-house instructors to train other employees and share what they have learned. Because our in-house training is provided after all the operation for the day is over and is required for all employees, it can be a bit of a hassle, but we believe that it is only natural for all employees to take such courses. Because we have few employees, they communicate closely on a daily basis and do what must be done on-site starting with what they are capable of.
Because our work is normally based on a shift system, we never know who will have to deal with customers who have disabilities. Therefore, we think it is necessary for anyone to be able to provide the same level of service.
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