Cpl. Sarah Stegall of Fidelis Rides checks the blood-alcohol level of a volunteer driver, Cpl. Angelo Garavito, recently at Camp Foster, Okinawa. AYA ICHIHASHI/STARS AND STRIPES
Cpl. Sarah Stegall of Fidelis Rides checks the blood-alcohol level of a volunteer driver, Cpl. Angelo Garavito, recently at Camp Foster, Okinawa. AYA ICHIHASHI/STARS AND STRIPES

Marines say free-ride service on Okinawa doesn’t take business away from local taxis

by Aya Ichihashi
Stars and Stripes

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A volunteer program on Okinawa that provides servicemembers with free rides after a weekend night on the town is not meant to compete with local taxi drivers, a base commander said recently.

Created in March by Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Karl to help Marines without cars or a lot of spending money, Fidelis Rides provides free lifts on Friday and Saturday nights to any servicemember who requests one. American Forces Network and the Social Networking Service Okinawa Facebook page have both publicized the service.

But a pair of local newspapers — the Ryukyu Shimpo and Okinawa Times — reported recently that “Y-plate taxi services” were taking business away from local taxi companies.

The all-volunteer service is not a money-making venture and is not meant to compete with local taxi services, said Col. Vincent Ciuccoli, commander of Camp Foster and Camp Lester. Marine Corps Installations Pacific in a July 12 Facebook post stated that providing ride-sharing services for money without a taxi license is illegal under Japanese law.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.591789

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