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‘Right to sit down’ on train offered on Mercari web market

The Yomiuri ShimbunA “right to sit down” service on a train during rush hour was recently offered for sale — and since deleted — for ¥1,800 on the online flea market Mercari, it has been learned.

The entry specified that the “vendor” would occupy a train seat before the buyer got on and vacate the seat when the buyer showed up. However, according to the train company, such an act would possibly violate local ordinances that ban the unfair provision of seats on public transportation. Mercari, Inc., which operates the online marketplace, deleted the entry.

The targeted line of the offer was Hokuso-Railway Co.’s Hokuso Line, which connects Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, and Katsushika Ward, Tokyo. These trains have no reserved seating.

According to Mercari and Hokuso-Railway, the item was titled: “Hokuso Line 8:06 a.m. From Komuro Station A seat on the second car.” It remained on the website until about June 4. The vendor was to occupy a seat for three days, whereupon the buyer would show a screenshot of the purchase and get access to the seat.

Mercari learned about the offer from tip-offs, such as from Mercari users, and the operator deleted the entry before any purchase was recorded, based on in-house guidelines that ban sales of services.

Most Hokuso Line trains continue their runs onto other lines, such as the Toei Asakusa Line, so many commuters use it to travel to busy Tokyo stations such as Shimbashi and Shinagawa.

The anti-nuisance ordinances of Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture prohibit “unfair provision of seats and others” in places such as train carriages.

“If such an act is allowed freely, people who might normally be able to get seats would not be able to,” a Hokuso-Railway spokesman said. “We urge people not to offer such an item.”

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