Monday, January 11, 2016

No child left behind, in Japan

Three years ago, Japan Railways noticed ridership at the remote Kami-Shirataki station on the northernmost island of Hokkaido had fallen dramatically. Freight service had already ended there, and the company was about to cancel passenger service when it noticed the train was still being used every day by one passenger -- a high school girl. So they decided to keep the train running until she graduates in March. Then the station will be closed.

Japan Railways even adjusted the train's timetable according to the student's schedule. It picks her up on the way to school and takes her home every afternoon. People are tipping their hats to the government for making education a high priority, even when rural railways are struggling. "This is the meaning of good governance," said one commentator, "penetrating right to the grass root level. No child left behind!"

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