Mitoyo City has started trialing golf cart-type electric vehicles as part of a "Green Slow Mobility" program in the Takuma area of Awashima Island.
With ferries currently the only means of public transport around the remote island, the public transport initiative aims to create an environment where residents, especially those of advanced age, can maintain their mobility and continue to live full and independent lives.
The trial will run until Feb. 18, 2021, and the city will explore the feasibility of expanding the service and making it permanent from April onwards.
Mitoyo City was selected as a site for the smart island trial promoted and overseen by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. Related industry, academic and government organizations launched a promotion council in September.
The test public transport program will be managed by the council body.
The environmentally friendly, open-sided electric vehicles, with a capacity of six people, have no doors for easy access and run at speeds of less than 20 kilometers per hour.
Starting at "Le Port Awashima" hotel, the route connects Awashima Clinic and Kamishinden in the eastern part of the island, and has stops in major villages.
The vehicles make three round trips a day, excluding special journeys. The service, free of charge during the trial period, is only available to local residents.
As a rule, reservations must be made over the phone before boarding. At the reservation center, the status of the vehicles and how many passengers are on board can be monitored in real-time by connecting with an in-vehicle tablet device. Four residents will rotate driving duties.
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