YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Base officials are trying to improve on-base taxi service, officials said this week, suggesting that if long waits and a lack of cabs are not fixed, a new company could get the lucrative contract.

During a radio town hall meeting Wednesday, Area II commander Col. Timothy McNulty said he knows of the complaints and has raised the issue with the taxi company and Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the contract manager.

“Hopefully the problem is getting better,” McNulty said, noting the contract is coming up for bid soon. In recent months, customers and base residents have complained of long lines at taxi stands, particularly at well-trafficked spots such as the Dragon Hill Lodge and the base exchange. Waiting more than 30 minutes for a taxi at peak times such as weekend nights is common, many taxi riders have said.

Because relatively few soldiers in South Korea are allowed to have personal vehicles, the taxi and bus systems on base are used frequently. “We are not meeting our demand,” Chester Hires, an AAFES representative, said on the call-in program. “We are working on this and will get this fixed.”

Officials from Worldcup Arirang Tourism Co. Ltd., which runs the on-base taxis, could not be reached for comment. In the past, company officials said they have about 100 taxis in service and have brought new cars into the fleet in recent months.

Another caller touched on a related issue, wondering why teenagers are issued drivers’ licenses when E-5s and E-6s no longer are allowed to register vehicles on base.

Earlier this year, citing an increase in the number of accidents — particularly drunken driving incidents — attributed to soldiers in those ranks, U.S. Forces Korea decided to limit driving to ranks E-7 and above. “We hold young drivers to the same standards as you and I,” McNulty said, defending the new driving policy for E-5 and E-6.

Younger drivers can get a license after they “go through an eight-week course, but they cannot register a vehicle.” In general, he said, heightened emphasis is being placed on road safety. More than 58 Area II residents, he said, have been issued two or more tickets in recent months and will have to justify to command leaders why their driving privileges should not be revoked. “We’re going to enforce the rules of the road,” McNulty said. “If you see something blatant, write down the information and let the provost marshal know.”

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