A couple of days ago, I saw this feature about taxi cabs in Japan. Apparently, even there in the Land of the Rising Sun, hard times in the economy are causing people to scrimp a bit. To attract people back to using taxis, several operators have decided to offer additional services aside from the standard 'take me from point A to B' service.
One big new service is the use of prepaid cards for use with taxis. The cards can be used with pay phones to call a cab, and then used to pay for the cab itself. No more hassle about exact change! Boy, would that be a big help here.
Another operator specializes in providing taxi drivers who also function as your personal bodyguard. The police-trained cabbies carry large, powerful stun guns (rifle-shaped tasers) and will escort their fares right to their door. This is supposedly very popular among single women who have to go out in late hours.
But the coup de grace is a special 'Nanny Cabbie' who services senior citizens. Not only will the cabbie drive the people to the mall, he'll also recommend the best places to go, show you around to the sights and make sure everything you need is provided for.
All these services are provided at the same usual taxi fare.
DAMN! That's a first-world nation for you. Here in the good ol' RP, we'd find as many cabbies who would put one over on you as there are good, honest taxi drivers. But them's the breaks I guess. Man, I could use one of those big stun guns...