JAPAN: The Osaka metro has been restructured from a public body to an arms-length company, with the city government’s Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau becoming Osaka Metro Co on April 1. Former Panasonic executive Hideaki Kawai has been brought in as President of the new company, under changes pushed through by the city’s Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura.

The city government took the decision to reform its metro operator in March 2017, in response to falling ridership revenue as the population declines. Because government bodies are prohibited by law from branching out into non-rail activities, the bureau was unable to tap alternative revenue sources. Like a number of other cities’ metros that have been ‘privatised’ as stand-alone companies, Osaka Metro Co will now be free to invest in non-rail businesses. Initial proposals include hotels, nurseries and nursing homes, which the company believes could generate additional ridership as well as income.

The current staff of 5 200 is expected to shrink to 4 500 as a result of the changes, although the organisational structure of the business will not change fundamentally. Existing employees who do not wish to stay with the new company will be able to request a transfer to a different department within the municipal government.

  • Read more about the changes at Osaka Metro in the Spring 2018 issue of Metro Report International magazine.