Creating "access for everyone" communities through a new shared bus service system

Oct.15, 2023


“Transport Disadvantage” is not something that is often considered or easily spotted when considering   urban problems. Due to recent declines in public transport services, however, and a Japanese government policy encouraging elderly drivers to renew their drivers licenses, people in both urban and rural settings are facing challenges in accessing safe, reliable and convenient transportation.
It is argued that to solve this problem, it is necessary to create a new, specialized transport system and Aisin has answered the challenge with the launch of a  new business: “Choisoko.” an on-demand, shared bus service. When receiving trip requests from registered users via phone or internet, the optimal ride-sharing route is calculated to pick up and transport them to their destinations. This service is attracting attention as a solution to transportation problems in the region.

In addition to automotive parts, Aisin has supplied a wide range of products related to movement and transportation, including car navigation systems. Here’s a closer look at what led Aisin to undertake the challenge of developing an on-demand shared bus service.

Providing sustainable service that achieves both continuity and expansion

Choisoko is an on-demand transport system which commenced operation in Toyoake City, Aichi Prefecture, in 2018. On-demand transport is a blend between a bus and a taxi as it can flexibly change routes and pickup times according to users’ needs. An on-demand transport service is in high demand especially in areas with aging populations, and many municipalities had already introduced this service. However, in many cases, the services or demonstration experiments were terminated within a year due to a limited number of users.

In response to this social issue, Aisin developed an on-demand transport service that achieves both continuity and expansion by applying its global market-best advanced technology for car navigation systems. The desire to create a sustainable community where people can continue to live comfortably led to the planning and development of the Choisoko on-demand transport service.

Creating a sustainable business model that helps liven up the entire community

It was once considered difficult to continue operating on-demand transport services. However, as of June 2023, Choisoko has already been in operation in more than 50 municipalities nationwide. It is beginning to take root as a new means of transport for citizens, and Aisin plans to expand Choisoko in more regions. So, what strategies have been taken to make this growth possible?

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One of the characteristics of Choisoko is that service operators are private companies, instead of municipalities.
It is true that most conventional, on-demand transport services are operated by municipalities,which ensure fairness by providing service even to areas where demand is extremely low. And, in most cases,  they’ve had to rely on passenger fare revenue alone, which is very limited. To create a sustainable business model that enables operators to continue their services, an area sponsor system has been introduced. In a sponsor system,  facilities and stores visited by users become “area sponsors”  and allow operators to have at least two revenue sources—passenger fares and sponsorship fees—and allocate them to operating expenses to sustain services.

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Advantages of Choisoko

In addition, significant efforts have been made to acquire partner companies for cross-country Choisoko expansion. In collaboration with private companies such as sporting goods manufacturer, “ASICS Trading Co., Ltd.” and café chain operator, “Komeda Co., Ltd.”, various events that are of interest to users are held in Choisoko service areas nationwide. Instead of just providing means of transportation for daily activities, such as going to the hospital and shopping, Choisoko seeks to create opportunities that encourage people to go out by connecting movement toservices’that users can enjoy after arriving at their destinations.

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Asics Trading “Falls Prevention Seminar”

Many users visit stores and venues for events, which in turn attract customers to the sponsors. Choisoko aims to build win-win relationships with all parties involved and thereby liven up the entire community.

Introducing new services such as child-raising support and sightseeing. Contributing to making the town more attractive.

Choisoko started operating mainly to alleviate the inconvenience of transportation for the elderly, but it has now expanded to a wide range of services for  other demographics.

An example is child-rearing support. Many parents spend a great deal of time transporting their children to and from  schools, lessons, and activities placinga heavy burden on the family. Choisoko has attracted attention as a safe and flexible means of transportation that can help solve this problem. “Choisoko Kumamoto Kids” was launched in Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture, to take elementary and junior high school students to and from  schools and activities.

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In Mihama Town in Fukui Prefecture, a service is offered to ensure convenient transportation for sightseeing. By completing a simple registration process, tourists can use Choisoko to tour local facilities and stores. By making the Choisoko service available not only to local residents but also to tourists, the number of Choisoko users has been increasing.

We will continue to strive to expand the Choisoko service system throughout Japan and work together with local communities to make their towns more attractive. Our vision is toexpandthis mobility system around the world, bringing future smiles and joy to people   everywhere.

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