Taxi drivers and customers are growing more and more frustrated by Pearl Harbor and Hickam military bases’ unfair and discriminatory exclusion of all taxis except for a select number of The Cab taxis.

Taxi companies and drivers do not object to the military’s right to contract exchange concessions. Historically, however, those contracts specifically referred to the exchange’s commercial operations such as the Commissary, PX, Officers and NCO clubs and at Hickam, Mac Terminal — not encompassing entire military bases.

This controversy centers around an allowance of a monopoly of all taxi trips within — and outside — of the bases, beyond the scope of the exchange contracts, to a select company and set number of drivers … 50 at Pearl Harbor and 35 at Hickam. Ironically, those 85 taxis or drivers haven’t gone through special and unique military screening, but the private company, The Cab, which has the contract with the Navy Exchange, is allowed to vouch for and “screen” the drivers themselves.

Most of Honolulu’s taxi drivers are loyal American citizens who ask for and
deserve justice and fair play from the U.S. military.

Base access, beyond the scope of the NEX contract, should be uniform and
fair, applied for all impartially. Either make all taxis drop off at the
gate, or let all be able to drop-off (even pick-up, if requested by
customer) fares into the base, after being properly screened and security
cleared.

Those in the taxi industry recognize the need to protect Homeland Security. But feel the security clearance process should be made available to all to
qualify when the trips originate or end outside the scope of the contracted
exchange facilities, as has been the common practice historically.

Charley’s Taxi, which has been in business since 1938, and survived the
experiences of WWII, the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts and all others in
between, has never seen such military paranoia with regards to all but a
very select minority of taxi drivers … and a single cab company.

We question why taxi drivers are being targeted specifically, because pizza
delivery drivers are allowed access courtesies subject to uniform security
processes.

We also question why the military feels it necessary to further a monopoly
of one company. Large signs are reportedly posted throughout Pearl Harbor
and Hickam advertising and recommending to all personal to use only The Cab
(even when off base). The effect of the military’s select advertising and
endorsement of The Cab’s monopoly is to have potential passengers call The
Cab even though the taxis dispatched may not be on the short list of 85
authorized for base access.

For Homeland Security purposes, Charley’s Taxi endorses proper background
checks of all taxi drivers in Honolulu, as is already mandated by the city’s
taxicab ordinance. We would even suggest, as a further precaution, that
gate sentries inspect the Driver’s License and Taxi Driver’s Certificate,
and record the car license plates and the passenger’s name, destination and
time of entry to the bases.

We cannot see how these recently imposed arbitrary rules make for good
customer service to military personal and the general public.

Examples of what has been happening include:

*Three customers were picked up at a Waikiki hotel. Two of the three were
in their ’60s and ’70s, and one of them sickly. They had gone to Hickam to
pick up a prescription. At the gate, the passengers were forced to get out
of the taxi they originated their trip in and into another taxi. This
forced them to pay another “flag drop” charge and inconvenienced them by
forcing the elderly persons to maneuver in and out of the vehicles.

*Gate sentries at Hickam have actually told customers either “don’t pay the
cabfare” or “ask for a full refund of cabfare” from taxi drivers or taxicab
companies for trips originating at off-base sites because the drivers were
“supposed to know they weren’t allowed on base”. — Firstly, it is illegal
for a customer to ride a taxi and then refuse to pay the fare. Secondly,
drivers by city mandate aren’t allowed to refuse service unless the
passenger is disorderly. Thirdly, our company was not officially notified
by the military until after we had complaints from drivers and customers and
contacted the bases ourselves and found out about these new “policies.” Fourthly, this unfairly interferes with private contracts between taxi
companies and corporate clients, including government accounts (military
included). Fifthly, it takes away a customer’s right to choose.

*There is a double standard even at Pearl Harbor, because when a ship comes
in, the ship commanders themselves will open access to all drivers,
otherwise their thousands of men and women are left at the docks after a
long deployment for ridiculous waiting periods.

*This military endorsement of The Cab further exacerbates the problems of
discriminatory practices at the Honolulu International Airport. The Cab
holds the current interim management contract of the Open Taxi System at the
airport. However, The Cab dispatchers divert customers into The Cab
cars, ahead of other drivers lined up at the airport taxi stand. Each base
commander sets the policy for his own base, and not all bases have as
stringent rules as Pearl Harbor and Hickam so it is misleading to say that
only The Cab drivers are allowed military base access. Also, questions
arise as to whether only the 85 allowed on the Pearl Harbor and Hickam bases
are utilized … or is The Cab using this to divert business to their own
cars under misleading circumstances.

”’Darcianne Evans is the vice president of Charley’s Taxi. She can be reached via email at:”’ mailto:darci@charleystaxi.com

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