Kate Hinds covers transportation for WNYC News.
Meet the Feline Station Master of the Wakayama Electric Railroad
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 - 12:00 PM
Here's another way to attract people to transit -- put a cat in charge of the local train station.
In 2007, Japan's financially beleaguered Wakayama Railroad was on the verge of closing its Kishi Station. But after a railroad executive adopted a local stray, Tama the calico cat became something of a local celebrity. Responsibility soon followed, and she was officially appointed station master. Her job, when she's not napping, is to greet passengers. (According to Wikipedia, "in lieu of a salary, the railway provides Tama with free cat food.")
Mitsunobu Kojima, the CEO of Wakayama Railroad, Kojima credits her with reviving the moribund railroad ("single-pawedly," according to the above Animal Planet segment.) Tama was credited with pumping as much as 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) into the local economy in 2007 alone.