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Customers stand in line at the Dragon Hill Lodge taxi stand on Friday, one day after the Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced a new taxi pricing policy. The long line was partially due to a 100 won (about $1) fee for calling a taxi to be picked up.
Customers stand in line at the Dragon Hill Lodge taxi stand on Friday, one day after the Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced a new taxi pricing policy. The long line was partially due to a 100 won (about $1) fee for calling a taxi to be picked up. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

Some base residents are fuming over a new AAFES on-base taxi fare system introduced Thursday with the stated goal of saving customers money.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced that its contracted taxi fares in Area I and Area II now are calculated using South Korean won prices, even though customers can still pay in dollars based on the daily won-to-dollar exchange rate.

AAFES also set the initial fare at 2,000 won — $2.17 with the March 16 military exchange rate of 920 won to the dollar. That’s a drop from the previous initial fare of $2.30, officials said.

AAFES also instituted a 1,000 won — or $1.08 — addition to fares if customers call for a taxi. The fares also will be increased by 20 percent between midnight and 4 a.m.

While one person said Friday he thought he noticed a substantial reduction in his fare between two bases — from $22 to $15 — most people asked felt otherwise.

“It’s not really a reduction. They charge an extra dollar if you call, so they’re getting their money back,” said Pfc. Jarran Turner of the 168th Medical Battalion. “And when the won rate goes up they’ll be raping us on taxi fares again.”

Other customers voiced the same concerns.

“It’s cheaper by 15 cents, but when you call they charge you an extra dollar,” said Pfc. Christina Carideo, of the 302nd Brigade Support Battalion. “It’s stupid.”

The call fee, some customers say, has extended more than cab fare.

“Look at the line,” said Turner, pointing to the dozen people standing at the Dragon Hill Lodge taxi stand. “Nobody wants to call and pay the call fee so the line is too long.”

AAFES spokesman Master Sgt. Donovan Potter said fluctuating won rates could lead to an eventual increase in cab fares, but he added that charging in local currency is consistent with what AAFES does in overseas locations worldwide.

Potter added that upcoming changes could mean lower fares.

“There are several initiatives that will eventually lead to lower cab fares,” he said.

He couldn’t provide details on all of those initiatives, but he did say AAFES was planning to hire additional taxi contractors, whose fares would be consistent with those charged off base — where the initial fee is 1,900 won — or $2.06 with the latest exchange rate.

He also said customers shouldn’t use the current lines at taxi stands as an indicator of how many people were calling the taxi company because the upcoming Reception Staging Onward Movement and Integration/Foal Eagle exercises were bringing many people from overseas who would be adding to cab usage.

Potter said AAFES has plans to alleviate excessive waits at taxi stands by eventually adding six more taxi stands in the Yongsan area.

AAFES also plans to install cameras at popular stands, though that plan has been delayed to due problems in finding appropriate power sources.

AAFES is looking to make similar changes with its contracted taxi service in areas III, V and VI, according to officials. AAFES does not contract taxi service in Area IV.

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