Support our mission

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — You might experience trouble flagging an on-base cab at Yokosuka Naval Base on Wednesday.

Even if you have no trouble hailing a cab, the taxi that fetches you will look a lot different as the Navy Exchange switches companies for the first time in more than a decade.

Among changes planned when DODSCO Inc. takes over Yokosuka Naval Base’s taxi business as of Wednesday, said Jerry McMahan, NEX services operations manager: a 20-car fleet of Nissan Cubes, uniformed drivers and a 70-yen (60-cent) base fare increase that brings the starting fare to 500 yen (about $4.30).

“DODSCO isn’t planning to disrupt service that day but there may be a couple of hours when we’re moving equipment where something happens,” McMahan said. “We’ll try to minimize any inconvenience.”

DODSCO, short for Department of Defense Sales Company, is a Japanese firm that already has a number of contracts with the U.S. military. In the past, DODSCO has acted as a sales representative for American manufacturers and worked with AAFES, NEX and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, said president Bob Sakamoto. For example, many of MWR’s chairs and carpets were purchased through DODSCO, Sakamoto said.

All drivers who want to stay will have that option, Sakamoto said. The drivers’ current salaries will remain the same for at least a month. After that, there may be changes, Sakamoto said.

“We want to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone, but we may need to reduce or terminate in the future in our goal to improve customer service,” Sakamoto said.

This will be DODSCO’s first taxi venture, he said.

“We’re planning to use Japanese ‘know-how’ with a taxi company out of Yokosuka,” Sakamoto said. “We want to be recognized for the level of service we provide.”

The switch means the end of the road, at least on base, for Ikeda Service Company, which has been providing taxis for 15 years and two generations, said owner Susan Kraft.

“My father started the business on base. He also started the city’s first taxi service 40 years ago,” Kraft said. But when it came time to renew the contract, Kraft decided to let it expire as some of the new conditions were “unsatisfactory,” she said.

“There were several new additions made to the contract which would have meant more bills to the company,” Kraft said.

So NEX, which gets a commission off the taxi service, opened up the bidding process. It’s a big contract, as the base does about $2 million in taxi rides each year, McMahan said.

The 70-yen base fare increase, up to 500 yen from 430 for a “first flag,” is a function of rising insurance rates and gas prices, McMahan said.

“The last time we raised the rates was five years ago,” he said. “Gas prices have doubled since then and taxis use a lot of gas.”

But not everything is changing. The phone number, DSN 243-4444, is staying the same. And Ikeda Service Company drivers — there are about 60 full- and part-time — can elect to continue driving cabs with DODSCO, Sakamoto said.

“We are giving them the choice,” he said. “We find out this week how many want to stay.”


Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up