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Cab company could stymie Fort Gordon bus plan

Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 5:17 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 8:54 AM
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Corporate attorneys at Yellow Cab of Augusta are reviewing an exclusive transportation contract the company has with Fort Gordon to see whether it can stop the city from expanding bus service to the Army post, an official said Monday.

It is unclear whether the one-year deal – which began April 1 and has a four-year option that can be extended by Fort Gordon at the end of March – applies only to taxi services.

Kenneth Hughes, the general manager of Yellow Cab of Augusta, said he believes that the terms include all transportation services and that adding a city bus route to Fort Gordon would breach the cab company’s agreement.

On Monday, City Administrator Fred Russell presented the Augusta Commission with a $321,000 plan to establish a Monday-through-Saturday route from Fort Gordon to Augusta Mall. No action was taken.

“Our attorneys are trying to figure out what the city is trying to do and if they can,” Hughes said of a bus route serving Fort Gordon. “Personally, I just don’t see where there is a need. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, if you ask me.”

On Monday morning, Hughes said he had nearly 50 cabs – 10 more than his company is contractually obligated to provide – circulating the 55,000-acre Army post, which has a military population of 15,000 and a residential population of 2,800 families.

“Everything is lovely – smooth as could be,” Hughes said of his operations at Fort Gordon. “Probably the best it has ever been.”

Under the terms of the contract Yellow Cab has with Fort Gordon, the taxi company must provide a minimum of 40 cabs and pay $305 per taxi each month into the post’s non-appropriated fund.

Regular fare on the city’s Augusta Mall bus route is $1.25. For Fort Gordon passengers wanting a ride to the mall, Yellow cab charges the first rider $12 and each additional passenger an extra $6, according to its contract with the post.

Fort Gordon spokesman J.C. Mathews said in a statement that post leadership has not yet exercised the option for next year but is aware of Yellow Cab’s concerns.

“We’re mindful of the concerns expressed by the Yellow Cab Co. regarding the proposal for bus service on Fort Gordon,” Mathews said. “We will continue working discussions with city officials and ensure that any decisions reached regarding bus service on the installation will comply with all legal requirements and obligations.”

According to a Fort Gordon report published online last spring, Yellow Cab is the only taxi company permitted on the post, under the terms of the contract.

Mathews said that in order for a copy of the contract to be released, the news media would have to submit a Freedom of Information request to the Army. The Augusta Chronicle submitted a request, but it had yet to be fulfilled Monday.

Hughes contended a bus route to Fort Gordon would slow traffic and increase security concerns.

All of Hughes’ drivers must pass a background check, a drug screening and security clearance before being allowed to enter Fort Gordon.

It is unclear whether such a process would be enforced for city bus drivers. At the moment, the Fort Gordon route would make four stops on federal property and force passengers without permission to access Fort Gordon to wait at the post visitor center.

“There’s more to it than just going out on that base,” Hughes said.

Comments (24) Add comment
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Curlie56
9
Points
Curlie56 11/25/13 - 07:21 pm
4
5
Fort Gordon Bus Ride

As a passenger of the bus system as well as a previous passenger who lost my job due to transit's decision to cut the previous route to Fort Gordon...I am all for Fort Gordon's new route! I would rather pay $1.25 daily than the $6-12.00 daily. Before the cut in the 90's I would ride behind a taxi while on the bus that was also going to the mall...I paid $1.25 and at that time the soldiers etc, were paying $9.00 for the first soldier to ride in front of the bus to the mall! During that time the bus stopped at the bus shed on Fort Gordon from 6a.m. to around 10 or 11 at night with great service! The gate keepers at Gordon would stop the bus sometimes and sometimes walk through to check ID's all done in less than 5 minutes...no problem because the driver would tell all the passengers to have their ID out and ready to give to the MP!

So with all of this said...due to the economy, yes, by all means crank up the bus now and put it at Fort Gordon. Commission should stop over thinking and over debating this issue because transit has done this before...nothing new here! The only negative issue with the buses at Gordon is that it has to wait until departure time to leave, whereas a taxi can leave as soon as a passenger jumps in if it wants to; however, most of the time a taxi will sit and wait until the taxi is loaded before it moves.

Pops
8520
Points
Pops 11/25/13 - 09:08 pm
4
3
By all means

pour some more money into the taxpayer subsidized transportation system....after all, it's not money keeping it running....it's "funds".....

dichotomy
32986
Points
dichotomy 11/25/13 - 10:40 pm
4
3
Politicians just cannot

Politicians just cannot resist taking someone's hard earned money to spend on ANOTHER money pit, under utilized, pretty much unwanted, pet crusade project so they can get their name in the paper and appear "progressive". Especially those wanting to run for higher office.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 11/26/13 - 06:26 am
1
1
Freddy boy1
Unpublished

Why would you start another losing program with the city transit at fort gordon, when you know it is a money loser. I suspect because the money is coming from taxpayers and you have shown that tax and spend is your cup of tea as well as the commissioners.The taxpayers need to revolt and reject this idea and maybe the city will have such a deficit budget. Freddy, would you fund this project out of your pocket? Stop wasting taxpayers money.

Fiat_Lux
15429
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/26/13 - 08:05 am
2
1
Yeah, right dickworth.

It's far better to let the lowest paid and the most financially vulnerable pay outrageous amounts for something most citizens could access easily and at very little cost. It's especially offensive when they are soldiers and their dependents, as well as citizens who work at the fort.

That particular bus route would probably get more use than most.

Riverman1
84029
Points
Riverman1 11/26/13 - 08:38 am
3
0
Wrong Routes

The current taxis are actually vans taking a large number of riders at a cost of what would be just a little more than $6. It’s door to door anytime service. But the biggest issue here is most of the soldiers who don’t have cars are the young, single trainees, temporarily here. They are going out to the Wash. Rd. West Augusta area with the motels, bars and restaurants, not downtown.

nocnoc
42654
Points
nocnoc 11/26/13 - 09:13 am
1
0
Let those that ride decide.

BUT, the riders ALONE must pay and ALWAYS pay the FULL cost of
riding. NOT 1 penny is to ever come from the ARC budget or the Non-riders, to supplement anything.

Question: It was done before by a PRIVATE Bus company at
a low cost per seat (Gordon Bus Company), why not again?

Why should the ARC Taxpayer be on the hook for more $$$$, when we are $Million$, short of meeting this years budget now?

>That taxi is looking cheaper already isn't it.

BTW: to the person that claimed to of lost a job because of the previous lost bus service. When a Job was good enough to keep, I have and did for many years car pooled, biked, and hitched to work.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/26/13 - 08:59 am
2
0
Alternative

Since there is a functioning alternative already providing door to door transportation, it would be outrageous and borderline immoral to put in taxpayer-subsidized bus service. Let Fort Gordon handle its own transportation needs.

nocnoc
42654
Points
nocnoc 11/26/13 - 09:40 am
1
0
LL - I am frequently out at FT. Gordon

so I am at a loss to understand why this is even being purposed.
Because, I see shuttle services running all over post in van run by military personnel on a regular basis.If Morale & Support felt the need for the Mall Shuttle they would do it, or contract it out.

So this whole mess raises questions, like.
1.) Is this being pushed by the MALL, to get at more $$$? That
they hope to squeeze out of the Soldiers and have THE TAXPAYERS
Foot the Expense?

2.) Or, Is this being driven by the 4 or 5 DOWNTOWN focused
Politicians for future campaign or other Future "Donations"at
THE TAXPAYER EXPENSE?

3.) Or is this being pushed by the ARC Civilian Riders that feel
THE TAXPAYERS SHOULD COVER IT?

BTW: Based on real rider estimates, not cooked up figures.
Those 10 to 15 Non-Military riders would cost ARC Taxpayers
between $24,000 and $31,000 EACH, PER YEAR to get them to work.

So why are the ARC "Taxpayers" allowing it?...

HECK, excuse me.
I almost forgot for a moment, the ARC Commission is currently driven by Votes for Hand outs and later pay backs, not fiscal responsibility.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/26/13 - 09:46 am
1
0
Answer

Your "eyes on ground" are valuable to the discussion, nocnoc. And your questions are right on the money. I might suggest another source for the push to get a half-million per year taxpayer subsidized bus route from Ft. Gordon to Augusta Mall:

4.) An announced mayoral candidate who used to work as a contractor at the Fort.

It would make a good stump speech item, wouldn't it?

itsanotherday1
43258
Points
itsanotherday1 11/26/13 - 10:26 am
1
0
Again, I understand the

Again, I understand the desire to have public transportation as part of the package of subsidized community amenities. It enhances the status and desirability for those considering moving to a location; especially new factories, etc. Theoretically, those subsidies are recovered by increased tax base, additional monies pumped into the local economy, etc.
Whether that is true or not, what I don't understand is driving these 50 passenger buses around with 3 passengers when the same could be accomplished with smaller, cheaper vehicles. You don't see for profit transportation operating 90% empty.

Little Lamb
46022
Points
Little Lamb 11/26/13 - 10:43 am
0
0
Empty

I nominate IAD for the quote of the day:

You don’t see for-profit transportation operating 90% empty.

Darby
25694
Points
Darby 11/26/13 - 12:32 pm
2
0
Hughes said of a bus route serving Fort Gordon.

“Personally, I just don’t see where there is a need. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars, if you ask me.”

.
Yeah, let's just stick it to those rich GI's. They've got plenty of money. No bias on Hughes' part.

...........................................................................................................................
If the bus route can operate at a profit, then DO IT! Right now, the soldiers are virtual hostages!

I'm an avowed capitalist. I believe in a businessman wringing as much money as he can out of the free enterprise system. But only IF THE SYSTEM IS ACTUALLY FREE.

Sweet son
10406
Points
Sweet son 11/26/13 - 02:42 pm
1
1
Just another case of government meddling!

The cab company provides door to door service and also provides jobs. Guess what Fred and Alvin these guys live in the community, pay taxes which pay your salary! Leave it alone and figure out ways to save 'our' money and not spend more on worthless projects.

dichotomy
32986
Points
dichotomy 11/26/13 - 07:39 pm
1
0
And by all means, let's get

And by all means, let's get Augusta, the Army, and the cab company all involved in an expensive, long, drawn out lawsuit and THEN throw $1/2 million or so at a bus route that nobody particularly wants and which will mostly run empty buses....PAID FOR BY US....WHO ARE ALREADY BROKE AND HAVE AN $8 million dollar budget deficit. With property owners facing a 20% property tax and fee(s) hike just what in the HELL are Fred, the mayor, and the commissioners thinking? And the same "empty bus" situation applies to Alvin's proposed South Augusta/Tobacco Rd route(s) too.

The taxpayers, and FEE payers, of this county are screaming for relief and our mayor, administrator, and commissioners are wandering around like a bunch of mental midgets going "oooohh, that would be nice to have....ooohh, we'll take two of those....ooohh, we need to build one of those. oooohh, we aren't sure about what to do there so we need to pay for a study and a consultant....oooohh and maybe a Community Liaison."

rebellious
20780
Points
rebellious 11/26/13 - 08:27 pm
1
0
Hey Curlie, that difference

Hey Curlie, that difference in price was paid by taxpayers (me).
Hey Fiat, I feel your benevolence and sympathy for the underpaid, but let the one who benefits from the underpayment finance the difference.
Hey Little Lamb - right on target as usual.
Hey Darby, you said "If the bus route can operate at a profit, then DO IT! Right now, the soldiers are virtual hostages!" The bus system in Augusta is like an anchor on a schooner, not EVER showing a profit! It is a taxpayer subsidized service.
Hey Sweetson, Viva la privato enterprisio
Hey Dichotomy, keep ringing the bell. Maybe someday, someone will hear it!

Brad Owens
4436
Points
Brad Owens 11/26/13 - 10:02 pm
1
1
The taxis win again...

What a crock. I have been stationed all over the world and I have NEVER been to a post but here where there was not bus service for the soldiers.

I love how all of the sudden this is a cost issue but we can fund all of the other crapola here in town that doesn't help anyone.

Brad

Brad Owens
4436
Points
Brad Owens 11/26/13 - 10:04 pm
3
0
Also...

Seems like I have heard this before except the buses were going to run an express service from FG to downtown to Robert C. Daniels "Target" area and back to the fort.

Only Fred could take an idea meant to help the small business downtown and make it about helping the mall out.

Here's a hint; WE had downtown merchants ready to PAY for the routes and the DDA and APT were against it. I wonder why?

I don't mind my idea being stolen, I just am REALLY mad they are not stealing the entire idea.

Brad

P.S. I have been working on this since about 1999, no one seems to want to do anything about this until now.

Brad Owens
4436
Points
Brad Owens 11/26/13 - 10:09 pm
2
1
If I were the commission...

It will be pretty hard for the taxicab company to operate without a city business lic. If they block this, we should not issue them another business lic for 2014. I bet you will find that in that monopoly contract they have with Ft. Gordon that it requires them to have all the required lic and permits to operate.

Play hardball with these losers blocking this much needed service for the soldiers at Ft. Gordon.

And all you "conservatives" harping about cost should be ashamed of your unpatriotic attitude towards our soldiers at the Fort.

I bet you all are the same crew that support every war that comes down the pike.

The life of a soldier... welcome to Augusta.

Riverman1
84029
Points
Riverman1 11/26/13 - 10:50 pm
3
0
Speaking Of Helping the Soldiers

Here is something being overlooked. The nonappropriated fund that supplies niceties for the barracks and so on will lose lots of money. Without the extra money each cab pays into the fund, rides could be even cheaper.

"Under the terms of the contract Yellow Cab has with Fort Gordon, the taxi company must provide a minimum of 40 cabs and pay $305 per taxi each month into the post’s non-appropriated fund."

Darby
25694
Points
Darby 11/27/13 - 03:06 am
2
0
"And all you "conservatives" harping about cost should

be ashamed of your unpatriotic attitude towards our soldiers at the Fort.

I bet you all are the same crew that support every war that comes down the pike.

The life of a soldier... welcome to Augusta."

.
Brad - I'll take that bet and you'd be flat out wrong. All this conservative wants is that the bus pay for itself. That shouldn't be that difficult to do. As for the taxi monopoly, that political boondoggle should have been killed off years ago.

This from a soldier who probably has more than 20 years active duty on you. You shouldn't paint with such a broad brush.

Fiat_Lux
15429
Points
Fiat_Lux 11/27/13 - 09:30 am
1
0
There probably are ways to be smart about this

and still help soldiers get cheaper transportation at high demand times of the day or week, and without nailing the taxpayers for something that is severely underutilized.

Brad Owens
4436
Points
Brad Owens 11/27/13 - 12:49 pm
2
0
Darby, never throw a resume at someone in a debate...

And unless you spent 30 years on active duty and you and are still in you "probably" don't have so much time "on me". Also, that has zero to do with your opinions being any less or more valid on this issue. Now that the ego contest is over, lets talk facts.

I have worked on this issue for many years and I had (still have in fact) downtown merchants willing to cover the cost THEMSELVES to support this service. The plan was well laid out and would have worked except for giverment employees protecting turf and the greedy taxi company. So you really don't understand why I am angry about this.

Also, there is no way the taxi company should be able to prevent public transit from helping the soldiers get a ride into town. Anyone who supports the taxis over the soldiers is at the very least anti-military or put exorbitant profits before rewarding military service.

And to quote my friend Sylvia, "Why should we give the brave men and women who serve our country bus service when the cab company can soak them for outrageous fees? Surely we will not do the right thing. It would be so out of character for our government."

That pretty much sums it up.

Brad

Darby
25694
Points
Darby 11/28/13 - 03:16 am
1
0
Brad - I know you personally....

and I know your age... I knew you when you were driving a tanker around watering peoples lawns while running for office.

So yes, I have spent AT LEAST 20 years more on active duty than you have and you and I BOTH know it. The "resume" IS pertinent when one is being accused of not supporting our military. If not for your insult, it would never have been mentioned.

As for the rest of your rant. Your vitriol doesn't make sense. If you had taken the time to read my comments, you would have noticed that you and I agree on just about everything, so what's your problem?

I did, however take offense to your broad brush attack on conservatives though.

I'm for cheap, available mass transit for our military and flat out against the taxi monopoly which I view as a ripoff. Do you object to that position? If you do, then I'm not seeing it in your posts.

I would happily support a plan to have merchants pay for bus service, however, businesses come and go and I don't see that in the long run such a plan could be maintained without someone at the helm constantly to keep those same merchants contributing to the kitty.

Can you visualize someone donating his services over the long haul? Or does your concept provide for a paid manager? If your plan was a company stock, I could not bring myself to invest in it. It just could not work!

I can't see your idea as a working solution but am willing to give you an attaboy for your efforts and attitude.

Darby
25694
Points
Darby 11/28/13 - 12:48 pm
1
0
This just in...

The White House has issued a last minute reprieve for American Families...

OzBama the Great and Powerful has announced that...

IF YOU LIKE YOUR TURKEY, YOU CAN EAT IT!

PERIOD!

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