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The new taxi service that began last month at Camp Carroll in South Korea has so far meant safer, cheaper and faster taxi service for troops at the big logistics base in Waegwan, officials said Tuesday.

“I think the service has improved drastically since we incorporated this new taxi service,” said Camp Carroll transportation chief Wilfredo Santiago. “The soldiers are using it, and the civilians — everybody’s using it.”

Officials launched the service under a June 7 written agreement between the Army’s Area IV Support Activity and the governor of Chilgok County, of which Waegwan is a part.

Since the agreement, the taxi driver’s group has added a sixth taxi to the service, Santiago said.

Waiting times are averaging about 10 minutes, with soldiers now able to dial a commercial phone number answered by an English-speaking dispatcher.

Under the previous taxi service, getting a taxi was a sketchy undertaking: Troops had to call a driver’s cell phone and hope he’d be willing or available to pick them up, base officials have said.

They looked to set up the new service because of those and other problems with the previous arrangement, which was also the subject of allegations that drivers overcharged soldiers.

“They’re using the meter now,” Santiago said of the new taxi service, “so they’re not overcharging people that way. Before there was no control.”

But now control has been established through the oversight of Chilgok County officials, he said.

“Now they’re accountable to the county and they’re accountable to us,” Santiago said.

And on-post service is cheaper than before because the new service does not charge the 1,000 won extra (about $1) for pickup inside Camp Carroll.

Calling a cab from off-post, however, does cost 1,000 won extra.

Fares follow two rate schedules:

From 4 a.m. to midnight, rates are 1,500 Korean won (about $1.50) plus 100 won (about 10 cents) for every 177 meters (about 194 yards) driven and for every 40 seconds when not in motion.From midnight to 4 a.m. the rate is 1,800 won (about $1.80) plus 100 won for every 177 meters driven or for every 40 seconds when not in motion.Since the service started, base officials also have put the six drivers through a four-hour course on safety and on-post driving, Santiago said.

Safety inspections were done on all six cabs.

No figures on how many riders are using the new service daily have been tabulated yet, but will be soon, Santiago said. But indications are that six cabs are enough to meet the installation’s needs for now, he said.

Taxi!

Troops needing service can call two local Waegwan commercial numbers: 972-8531 or 972-8532.

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