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Japanese taxicabs now may enter and drop off authorized passengers at Camp Zama, Sagami General Depot and Sagamihara Housing Area.

The new policy took effect last month, mostly to accommodate pedestrians returning home after shopping off post.

“Instead of having to lug all their packages from the gate to their quarters, they can catch a cab at the train station and be dropped off directly,” said Army Master Sgt. Brian Heidt, U.S. Army Garrison-Japan provost sergeant.

Taxicabs were allowed on post several years ago, but that policy changed with ensuing commanders. Heidt said Col. Gary Longhany, U.S. Army Garrison-Japan commander, wanted to bring the taxis back.

Passengers must be authorized to enter the installation unaccompanied, meaning they have to show a U.S.-Japan status of forces agreement ID card at the gate. The cab driver must exchange his license for a taxi-authorization pass, proceed directly to the passenger’s destination and exit through the same entry gate, after swapping the pass for his license.

At Camp Zama, taxicabs may enter through gates 1 and 7; Sagami General Depot, gates 1 and 5; and through Sagamihara’s main gate. Taxis may come on post 24 hours a day, but they are not authorized to pick up passengers inside the gates.

Some residents favor allowing the taxicabs on post but say the change needs to be better publicized.

“I was just made aware of it, actually,” said spouse Vicki Acevedo, 25. She and some friends recently made the 10-minute trek from the train station to her Sagamihara home at 5 a.m., after a night in Roppongi.

“I think it’s a wonderful option to have, especially for people who live on base and who don’t have cars,” she said. “My only concern is speaking Japanese.”

Many Japanese taxicab drivers don’t speak English. “I had someone translate ‘Sagamihara housing area,’ and it’s very complicated,” she said.

Camp Zama should hand out cards with English-to-Japanese translations of the area’s U.S. military installations, Acevedo suggested.

Heidt said U.S. Army Garrison-Japan eventually would like to contract with a cab company to drop off and pick up residents on post.

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