Pregnant Women Get Special Maternity Taxi Services in Japan

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Riding the subway while pregnant can really suck, but there’s never a guarantee of getting a taxi, especially in a busy city. That’s why–in order to help out and also to build up some good publicity and set itself apart from competitors–one taxi company in Japan started a special maternity taxi service for pregnant women, and it’s proved so popular that now a ton of companies in different cities are doing it, too.

According to Rocket News 24, in 2012 Tokyo’s most popular taxi service started a membership club for pregnant women, so they could pre-order taxis to take them to medical appointments. It also allowed them to call an emergency taxi when they are going into labor, which allows them to get priority in the company’s “people waiting for taxis” line.

Considering a lot of taxis here in the U.S. wouldn’t even want to pick up a woman in labor, actually giving laboring priority access to taxis is pretty great. The city loved it, too, because that meant that women in labor didn’t have to call ambulances because they couldn’t get taxis, which means the ambulances are free to handle actual emergency situations.

The company even hired midwives to give drivers some training in pregnancy and delivery, just in case.

This is a pretty great service, especially in Tokyo, where the train cars are crowded beyond all human imagination. Seriously. I lived in New York for seven years and I’ve never once seen a New York subway car even half as full as a Tokyo train during commuter hours. That full-body crush is not exactly comfortable even when a person is not pregnant. One supposes the maternity taxis take some of the pressure off train riders, too, because if a very pregnant woman gets off, two people can get on in her place. Also, nobody has to worry about squishing the pregnant lady.

20,000 people reportedly signed up for the service in its first year, and it was so successful that other Tokyo taxi companies started doing it, too. It’s not available everywhere yet, but popularity seems to be growing.