Photo/IllutrationTaxis wait in front of JR Hakata Station in Fukuoka. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Taxi passengers will soon be able to just relax and take their eyes off the meter as the fare will be agreed before they jump in.

The fee will be given in advance via a smartphone app that will be introduced by the transport ministry with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in mind.

The aim of the new nationwide system is to diminish any anxiety, particularly from foreign visitors, when they see the meter clicking toward the sky.

The transport ministry will dump by the end of fiscal 2018 the current rule based on the Road Transportation Law, which states the fare should not be determined and offered beforehand.

More than 4,000 taxis participated in an experiment conducted by the ministry in Tokyo from August to October this year.

In the trial, the system was used 7,879 times, and 67 percent of passengers reportedly said they would be happy to use such a system in the future.

Of those, the highest percent said the reason for giving the thumbs up was that they would not have to start worrying when held up in a traffic jam or other delay.

The second highest percentage said it was good to know how much it would cost beforehand before going to a destination for the first time.

Potential users of the new system need to first obtain the smartphone app and then make a reservation for a taxi and input the starting point and destination.

The charge is then displayed on the screen, and the customer can decide whether to take the ride or not.

If a traffic jam or other factors prolong the duration of the ride, the charge fee will not be changed.

The new charge system can be used only in advance using the app and not when hopping into a random cab.

Many of the participants in the experiment were not frequent users of taxis. A ministry official said, “The system serves to remove their mental barriers for using taxis.”

The total income generated using the new system during the experiment was almost the same as through the conventional meter system.

The number of taxi fares has plummeted by 30 percent in the past 10 years. A change in the law was suggested by the taxi industry, which is determined to make a V-shaped recovery.

In addition, taxi services are expected to play a major role in building a transportation infrastructure for elderly people who voluntarily turn in their drivers’ licenses.