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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 July 26 - August 1  > People with mental disabilities push private railway company to introduce half-price fare for them
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2017 July 26 - August 1 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

People with mental disabilities push private railway company to introduce half-price fare for them

July 28, 2017
Pushed by tenacious efforts by persons with mental disabilities, their families, and their supporters, a major private railway company in Kyushu expanded the scope of its discount offer to include mentally-disabled passengers. Persons concerned are pleased with the company’s measure.

Nishi Nippon Railway Company (NNR) provides train and bus services in the Kyushu region, southwestern Japan. The Fukuoka-based company in April started to offer a half-price fare for passengers with a certificate of mental disabilities.

No other major private railway company provides such a travel concession. Although all public transport providers have a discount price program for persons with physical disabilities, a majority of the companies do not apply the program to mentally-disabled people.

Most people with mental disabilities live on a small income and even transportation costs necessary to go to see a doctor are a heavy economic burden for them. Supporters’ groups for these people, such as the National Federation of Mental Health and Welfare Party in Japan, have long called for the introduction of a lower-price fare.

In Fukuoka Prefecture, the local body of the federation has worked hard to realize a reduced fare program for more than ten years. They repeatedly petitioned the prefectural assembly and conducted a signature-collection drive to achieve the goal, gathering 52,000 signatures in 2016 alone. In July last year, the group and NNR jointly carried out a survey to ask patients whether they would use NNR’s bus/train services more often if given a discount. The survey found that 90% of the respondents answered, “Yes”.

The federation’s Fukuoka branch head, Ichiki Takeshi, said that NNR’s introduction of a half price fare has had a ripple effect on other bus companies in the prefecture, prompting them to follow suit.
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