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Drivers Anthony Weaver and Sylvia Jackson stand near one of the 12-passenger vans that will be used for the new Fort Lee official taxi service. Service is set to begin within the next month and will gradually replace an inefficient shuttle bus service.

FORT LEE, Va. (March 28, 2013) -- Those who conduct official military business on the installation will soon have access to a new transportation service.

Bob White, the Installation transportation officer, detailed a taxi service that will debut within the next month and eventually replace an inefficient shuttle bus system.

“It will reduce customer wait times, save money on fuel, reduce labor costs and costs associated with leasing vehicles,” he said.

The new service, which has been on the drawing board for some time, is projected to save the installation more than $163,000 annually, said White, and the service will be more streamlined.

“It will be run much like the taxi services downtown,” he said. “So if I’m at my office here at the Soldier Support Center and need to go to CASCOM for a meeting, all I have to do is call 30 minutes in advance, tell the dispatcher who I am, where to pick me up and where I’m going. It’ll then take me where I want to go and drop me off – door-to-door service.”

Like the shuttle bus system, the taxi service will be free of charge and available to civilians and military members who are traveling on post to conduct official business.

The shuttle buses, which currently make stops throughout the installation, operate on routes that take 30-40 minutes to complete, said White. Riders are required to board the vehicles at designated stops and may have to ride through other stops along the route before arriving at their destinations.

The new service will primarily use three to four 12-passenger vans and additional types of vehicles when required to offer some measure of flexibility. For instance, if dispatchers are notified that there are more riders than the van’s capacity, the service can respond with larger vehicles due to the use of magnetic signs that can be switched from vehicle to vehicle.

“We can adjust to whatever the mission is,” said White.

The shuttle bus service, operated at a cost of roughly $300,000 annually, was a quality-of-life amenity for advanced individual training military members but it could no longer be justified, said White.

“We’ve looked at our ridership in great detail, having completed several ridership studies,” he said, “and we’ve found that our ridership doesn’t really meet the requirements of running these larger vehicles within a shuttle bus system.”

White said the shuttle bus service will be phased out over the next few months as more official taxis come online.

He added that another transportation alternative is also available to community members not performing official travel; two commercial taxi companies, contracted by the Fort Lee Army and Air Force Exchange Service, offering rides to any destination on the installation for around $2.

Those who want to use the Fort Lee Official Taxi Service should call (804) 765-TAXI (8294) when the service is operational. For more information, call Kenneth Bolton at (804) 765-7617.