By Kenneth FidlerJune 15, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials continue efforts to bring commercial taxi service back to full capability.
Until taxi service is fully restored, shuttle bus service will continue running every 15 minutes during peak hours, and the community can participate in a voluntary ride-share program.
AAFES terminated the World Cup Taxi Service contract last week for "not following through with contractually obligated service," said Shawn Dorcy, Area II AAFES general manager.
About 50 taxis from a secondary company currently provide service from taxi stands, but the drivers don't have dispatch service. World Cup drivers started striking intermittently in March. Before the strike, nearly 140 taxis were operating during peak hours.
"We are working now to specify a timeline when we can expect to see an additional 50 taxis on post," Dorcy said.
AAFES is working to contract another company to eventually provide about 140 taxis running full service.
USAG-Yongsan Command Col. Dave Hall said Garrison and AAFES officials are "aggressively attempting to increase our cab capability to help in the short term."
"At end-state, we feel we can bring capabilities up to what they were before the strike, but we want the community to know that it could take several weeks," Hall said.
Prospective taxi companies and their drivers must undergo security screenings, which can affect timely implementation of a new contract, he said.
When the strike started in March, Garrison officials stepped in to help ensure community members have the means to get around.
Shuttle bus service doubled to every 15 minutes at all bus stops on weekdays during the peak hours of 7-8:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and 3-5:30 p.m.
Last weekend, weekend shuttle bus service increased runs to every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This also helps accommodate those shopping at the commissary and post exchange.
"We are asking everyone to please be patient on the weekends," said USAG-Yongsan Logistics Director Lydia Grohmann. "We are allowing shoppers to store their bags in the storage compartments on the buses, but this may delay the bus schedule some. We just ask for everyone's patience."
Garrison officials are also asking the community to support a voluntary ride-share program, on or off post.
"I think it's important for our community to band together and help each other out," said Command Sgt. Major Ralph Rusch, USAG-Yongsan Command Sergeant Major. "If I'm leaving the commissary and I see someone waiting for a taxi with bags, I'm going to give them a ride."
The ride-share is available from the Dragon Hill Lodge, the Yongsan Commissary and the Main Exchange.