Photo: Benny Marty/Shutterstock

Tokyo Commuter Sells Seat on Packed Subway Car, Gets Busted

by Tim Wenger Jun 17, 2019

Rule number one for any enterprising business person is to identify a pressing problem and figure out how to profit by solving that problem. The subway system in metro Tokyo, an area with some 38 million residents, is notoriously clogged and often requires riders to stand shoulder to shoulder for the duration of their rides. One such entrepreneur decided he would take it upon himself to make one commuter’s ride more comfortable, each day. Because he lived in the suburb of Chiba and boarded early on in the route, a seat was almost always available to him in the morning.

According to a report in The Guardian, the man listed a reserved seat on the Hokuso line for sale on an auction site called Mercari. For 2,000 yen, about $18.50, a rider further down the line that otherwise would have had to stand amongst the chaos could instead enjoy a reserved seat that was personally kept warm by the buttocks of the purveyor. As the train moved closer to central Tokyo, filling up more at each stop along the way, the purchaser of the seat would approach the man, confirm that it was him, and slide into his conveniently reserved seat.

His plan proved successful because of the consistency of his trip. The man boarded at the same time each morning and would list the car number and where he was on the post. All the buyer had to do was show confirmation of payment. Demand for his seat was high, and multiple transactions were completed. With the ease of modern money-transfer apps, his plan was almost foolproof — except for the fact that it violated local ordinances in both the Tokyo and Chiba prefectures, which the route passes through. Mercari demanded the removal of the man’s listing, ending his short-lived venture. The punishment for his offense is a fine of up to 500,000 yen (more than $4,500) — certainly high enough to offset the man’s profit.

H/T: The Guardian

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