Public transportation in rural areas faces increasing challenges with increasingly aging populations. The elderly and disabled people who cannot drive by themselves highly rely on public transport for traveling. Therefore, to ensure the mobility needs for individual door-to-door services in depopulated areas with dispersed populations, several local authorities in Japan are implementing the taxi subsidy scheme (TSS) for the elderly. However, during the implementation, many issues relating to this policy, such as subsidy amount, usage time and number of distributed tickets, settings for target persons, and target area have been encountered. Based on this fact, we examined TSS from three perspectives: the local government that supports the policy with subsidy; small- and medium-sized taxi operators whose business management is influenced by TSS; and the elderly people with their outing status and TSS usage status. Furthermore, based on the trends of national policies, we examined the effective utilization of TSS as a public mobility service for the elderly in rural areas. As a result, for local governments, the TSS was found to be widely known as a support for vulnerable groups and for those who have returned their licenses, and the burden on residents is often not a large expense. From the viewpoint of taxi operators, TSS has considerably contributed to business management. Additionally, many business operators want to increase the usage time and number of people eligible for subsidies. The elderly survey showed that TSS users use taxi for various purposes and are less likely to be influenced by high prices compared with non-TSS users. In other words, it is suggested that the TSS should be the “ideal public transportation” by narrowing down the target users and improving the service.
elderly mobility, rural areas, taxi subsidy scheme (TSS)
 Transportation Planning Division, Public Transportation Policy Department, General Policy Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Current status and issues of regional public transportation in depopulated areas (in Japanese), 2017 Available online: https://www.soumu.go.jp/main_content/000569916.pdf.
 Sorensen, L., Bossert. A. Jokinen, J. & Schluter, J., How much flexibility does rural public transport need? Implication from a fully flexible DRT system. Transport Policy, 100, pp. 5–20, 2021.
 Aini, A., Yamanaka, H., Ishio, M. & Shimada, N., Planning of flexible transport services for rural area considering operation cost. Journal of Japan Society of Civil Engineers, Ser. D3 (Infrastructure Planning and Management), 75, pp. I_779–I_785, 2019.
 Fatima, K., Moridpour, S., Gruyter, C.D. & Saghapour, T., Elderly sustainable mobility: scientific paper review. Sustainability, 12, 2020. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187319.
 Zhao, P. & Yu, Z., Investigating mobility in rural areas of China: features, equity, and factors. Transport Policy, 94, 66–77, 2020.
 McDonagh, J., Transport policy instruments and transport-related social exclusion in rural Republic of Ireland. Journal of Transport Geography, 14, 355–366, 2006.
 Mulley. C., Ho, C., Balbontin. C. Hensher, D., Stevens, L., Nelson, J. D. & Wright, S., Mobility as a service in community transport in Australia: can it provide a sustainable future? Transportation Research: Part A, 131, 107–122, 2020.
 Busari, A.A., Oluwafemi, D.O., Ojo, S.A., Oyedepo, J.O., Ogbiye,A.S., Ajayi, S.A., Adegoke, D.D. & Daramola, K.O., Mobility dynamics of the elderly: review of literatures. Materials Science and Engineering, 640, 012077,2019. DOI: 10.1088/1757- 899X/640/1/012077
 Andreas, H., Mobility equity in a globalized world: reducing inequalities in the sustainable development agenda. World Development, 112, 150-162, 2018.
 Silvia, M. Towards sustainable mobility? The influence of the Covid-19 pandemic on Romanian mobile citizens in Spain. Sustainability, 13, 4023, 2021. DOI: org/10.3390/ su13074023.
 Wong, R.C.P., Yang, L., Szeto, W.Y., Li, Y.C., Wong, S.C., Transport Policy, 97, 129– 136, 2020.
 Harris, A. & Tapsas, D., Transport and mobility: challenges, innovations and improvements (Research Report No. pp 06/01). Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd, 2006, https://www.readkong.com/page/royal-automobile-club-ofvictoria-racv-ltd-citeseerx-9765411. Accessed on: 30 Dec. 2021.
 Deakin. E. Halpern, J. & Parker, M., Examining the potential for Uber and Lyft to be included in subsidized mobility programs targeted to seniors, low income adults, and people with disabilities (Research Report No. UC-ITS-2019-14t), 2020, https:// escholarship.org/uc/item/0mw7h24f. Accessed on: 30 Dec. 2021. https://doi. org/10.7922/G2NK3C9S.
 Yang, W., Hou, K., Zhao, Y., Zhang, T. & Luo, Z., An analysis of the allocation scheme for taxi resources using GPS data. Advances in Intelligent Systems Research, 163, 2018. https://doi.org/10.2991/meici-18.2018.66.
 Moriyama, M., Life and public transportation in mountainous aging areas (in Japanese). Journal of Global, 59, 25–29, 2010.
 Yoshida, I., A feasibility study on flat-rate taxi services in small provincial cities – a case study in Minamisoma city of Fukushima Prefecture. J-STAGE 39, 533–536, 2019. https://doi.org/10.14954/jste.6.2_A_183.
 Ishio, E., Yamanaka, H. & Sanada, J., The actual situation and ideal taxi subsidy system in depopulated areas (in Japanese). Japan Society of Civil Engineers, 69(5), pp. 771– 780, 2013.
 Kato, H. & Sugiura, A., Challenges for revitalizing the taxi business as public transportation. Japan Society of Civil Engineers, 5131, 2015.
 Nishi, K., A study of operation of fare-paying services with private cars in depopulated areas: focusing on maintaining drivers and raising funds (Master’s Thesis), 2014. Available online: http://www.ut.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/hp/thesis/2014/.
 National hire taxi directory, 2020 version. Supervised by the National Hire Taxi Association, Published by Tokyo Transportation Newspaper Company.