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Taxi drivers want more base access

Date Posted: 2004-09-10

Taxi drivers are voicing their opinions on a new bids system planned for access to military bases.

Even as some Okinawans are demanding an end to bases on the island, or at least a reduction in forces, others are concerned that Okinawans need more jobs on bases.

Taxi drivers are looking at a new bidding system to start Oct. 1. The deadline for bidding on base access was Aug. 30. The current system has taxi companies paying a flat rate for each vehicle licensed to operate on U.S. military installations.

“This bids system will make taxi companies a hard life,” says one driver. “Because the contract price will be high, it’ll be difficult but we really can’t tell the military what we think.”

In 1990, the price for a taxi gaining access to bases was ¥3,000 per vehicle, with 275 being licensed. That number ultimately increased to 430. After the terrorist events of September 11, 2001, the number of taxis allowed on bases was reduced. The subsequent complaints from drivers ousted led to the new bids system.

Still, they worry. “The contract price will be ¥10,000 per taxi,” says one, but even at that price we would like to get on base to get the driving jobs. Small taxi companies will never afford to pay that price, but new companies are happy to have a chance to bid.”

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