This Kyoto cab company’s new idea could answer your silent prayers.
At one point or another, even the most gregarious and outgoing passenger has probably found themselves trapped in a taxi cab conversation they wished they could escape from.
For regular users of taxis and ride-sharing services, the small talk between passenger and driver is often an unwanted, but unavoidable, part of the ride.
Especially because, since Uber exploded in popularity, the conversations have gotten more monotonous than ever — with both driver and passenger keenly aware that they’ll be rating each other at the end of the ride, there’s a certain pressure to engage in pleasant small talk, which usually circles back around to how long the driver has been driving for Uber.
And it’s not like you’re any better off in a traditional cab, where railing against Uber has become a favourite topic of conversation for cabbies.
Now, on the one hand, you might say that it’s good to be open to conversations with strangers, and that making an effort to engage with other people makes you a better, more compassionate and empathetic person.
After all, driving cabs can be a lonely existence, so is it really that hard for you to talk (and listen) for 10 minutes?
On the other hand: Nah.
Luckily, one Japanese company has come up with an idea that could save you from a lifetime of awkward conversations.
Miyako Taxi, which operates in the Kyoto area, has begun designating some of the cars in its fleet as ‘Silence Taxis’.
RocketNews24 reports that a notice written on the back of the passenger seat headrest of the Silence Taxis informs customers that, aside from offering a quick greeting and confirming their destination, the driver is not permitted to speak to them unless spoken to (unless it’s an emergency, in which case it’s absolutely necessary for the driver to speak to the passenger).
Now, there’s nothing to stop you from telling the driver of the Silence Taxi that you’re happy for them to speak — but, crucially, the ball is in your court, and you have to make the first move.
“This service is currently in a trial stage, with the goal of creating an in-car atmosphere that provides the most comfortable ride for passengers through limiting the driver’s speaking,” a spokesperson for Miyato Taxi said in a statement.
There are currently five Silence Taxis on the streets of Kyoto, as the company gauges the customer response to the program, which began quietly rolling out in March.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea, but maybe I’m just an anti-social jerk.
At the very least, it seems like it’d be an easy idea for Uber to emulate, as you could simply allow passengers to choose whether they want a ‘Silence Uber’ when they enter their information into the app.
On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of interesting conversations with cabbies — and some of the best ones, ironically enough, were in Kyoto.
What do you think? Could ‘Silence Taxis’ work in Australia? Have your say in the comments below!