Community bus services
To provide transportation services in areas not served by bus routes, an increasing number of local governments are opening community bus services in conjunction with private companies. Compared to ordinary bus services, community buses typically use smaller vehicles for added maneuverability, set short-distance, circular routes, have an easy-to-understand fare system, install facilities to aid the elderly and handicapped users, and are run directly by local governments or receive operation subsidies. Typical examples are the MU Bus which started in Musashino City, Tokyo in 1995, and MU Bus which started in Toyoda township, Shizuoka Prefecture in 1997. These services are called community buses because they serve an information dissemination function as well as provide transportation within a community.
Omnibus Town concept
The trend toward private cars is depriving rural communities of vital bus service, aggravating traffic congestion and air pollution. These problems have given birth to the concept of a community chiefly serviced by buses. Such communities are seen as a way to provide transportation for all in an environment-friendly community free of traffic congestion and accidents. More specifically, the concept brings public and private sectors together to install bus-only lanes, transit malls, Park & Ride systems, bus location systems, and non-step buses. Since FY 1997, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Construction, and National Police Agency have joined forces to promote the Omnibus Town concept, promising support to any community willing to implement such a project.