Wednesday 1 March 2023

OSHIYA- THE PROFESSIONAL PUSHERS OF TOKYO METRO !

I had been thinking earnestly that it is in some of the trains and buses in the third world only that passengers are mostly stuffed like sardines in a tiny tin. Though it cannot be compared in the real sense of it, when I saw passengers being pushed inside trains in Tokyo Metro professionally I got a hiccup! And there are professional pushers named as 'Oshiya' employed in Japan!!And why, I was curious to find out?

Tokyo caters for 38 million people! And most of them live in far suburbs as the accommodation is expensive and use public transport systems. While the trains are most modern, fast and passenger friendly in queues, the rush hours are simply maddening- with as much as 200% over capacity crowd. I am sure that the authorities must have reached the dead end of facilitating more trains. Instead they employed passenger pushers to manage the situation.

And I understand that Tokyo is not the first city to deploy them but New York in 1920s! So also Frankfurt ,Madrid and some cities in China use the system to this day! Definitely not on a lighter tone, the youngsters of Kerala state(my home state)where they move around the globe looking for new lucrative jobs, this could be a chance if you happen to be in Japan- "Oshiya" of Tokyo!

Most populated city...the need of pushers

Tokyo is the most populated city in the world to be followed by Delhi and Shanghai. About 57% of total population of Japan live in Tokyo. As the standards of living are higher and costly, most of the common people live in far suburbs. And most of them use public transport systems mainly trains to reach their working places and shopping areas. The complexity of the rail map of Tokyo above reflects the need of such extensive and serpentine rail road systems of metro and other subway trains in that city. At Shin Kunju station in central Tokyo 1.1 million people board or leave trains daily!

During winter as the commuters use warmer and heavier clothes, the spaces get more squeezed practically.

In spite of all the efforts, it seems the authorities might have reached the dead end of introducing more new routes and trains. In peak rush hours some of the stations are run in 200% over capacity! This is when Japan introduced 'Oshiya' or passenger pushers taking a clue from New York from 1964 onwards when Japan staged the first Olympics!

Enter the passenger pushers!
Dressed in full suits and white gloves pushers of Tokyo Metro cannot be missed at all during rush hours. These professional pushers are trained  for few weeks before they are deputized for the job. Generally the Japanese pushers are polite and passengers cooperate with them for being pushed in. They might have learned  a lesson or two from New York rail pushers who were hated by commuters being rude and they were known as 'sardine packers'! At times college students are also employed  to allow them to earn extra monies! Interestingly the train passengers are almost silent despite being pushed in! At the Lost & Found at every station piles of shoes, handbags, tie pins or books are reported to be exhibited soon after rush hours. Not only the passengers but these pushers also contribute their efforts in this matter.

On an average they are paid an annual salary of $44995 (Rs. 40 lakhs!) for this weird job.



Pushers of China, Spain, Germany...
In China at least in three metros at Shanghai, Chongqing and Guangzhou they use pushers at peak rush hours currently since 2008. At Madrid Metro pushers are known as 'empujadores' and employed since 2017.At Frankfurt Metro especially while the famous trade fair take place there, they seek the help of pushers since 2015.

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