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tstamp
(@tstamp)
Active Member

I drive a cab in where I live now (Des Moines, Iowa) and am wondering what the technicals and possibilities are for driving one down in the islands. Starting with the most obvious question I can think of, Which of the three islands would provide the best opportunities to make some decent money (which island has the most cabs?). My knee jerk reaction is St Thomas since it has the capitol, but would be curious to what you have to say.

I am aware they drive on the left side of the road. I personally think there's nothing that can prepare me for that other than just being down there and getting used to it.

Do the cab companies hire as easily down there as they do up here (as long as your a living breathing human being without an extensive criminal history)? How much do the operating licenses cost? Any other info you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

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Topic starter Posted : April 19, 2009 7:15 pm
AllMashUp
(@AllMashUp)
Advanced Member

I'm sorry for being a downer and I have no personal expierence to draw from, but simply from listening to the news down here it seems as though the Taxi industry is one of the most convoluted buisnesses in the islands to the point where an inordinate amount of energy is spent by our government officials fretting about, pandering to, and dealing with taxi drivers. I would surmise that an outside statesider would have a difficult time entering into this profession. Not to say that a normal, efficient, and reasonably priced option wouldn't be a godsend.

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Posted : April 19, 2009 7:56 pm
tstamp
(@tstamp)
Active Member

Sounds just like the cab company where I work!

I anticipate/anticipated the fact that an "outsider" such as myself might have a rougher go of it from many perspectives. I don't know my way around the way a local might. I would be "stealing" a job from the locals. Driving on the left side of the street. Taxi companies not hiring. Costing too much to become a cab driver (though this is doubtful).

Just out of curiosity, what do the cabs charge down there? Is it by distance, time or some other factor?

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Topic starter Posted : April 19, 2009 8:05 pm
Betty
(@Betty)
Trusted Member

Please someone tell me if I'm wrong, but as far as I heard it there's no "taxi company". You buy a $20k Medallion for a right to join the association and you buy your own car or van.

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Posted : April 19, 2009 8:15 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Here is the rate sheet for St Thomas: http://www.vinow.com/stthomas/getting_around_stt/taxi_stt/#rates

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Posted : April 19, 2009 8:25 pm
tstamp
(@tstamp)
Active Member

I definitely like the look of the charges to passengers. In most instances, the fares are comparable to those I am used to. I see for example that the waiting time is $1 per minute with the first 5 minutes free. Where I drive, it is $.42 a minute with no free time. Overall pretty comparable.

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Topic starter Posted : April 19, 2009 8:47 pm
tstamp
(@tstamp)
Active Member

Please someone tell me if I'm wrong, but as far as I heard it there's no "taxi company". You buy a $20k Medallion for a right to join the association and you buy your own car or van.

OK, now we're getting somewhere. Can anyone verify this information as being true and correct? Where is this verified?

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Topic starter Posted : April 19, 2009 8:49 pm
Uttica
(@Uttica)
Advanced Member

Don't quote me, but 20K sounds about right. Do some research.

Just don't name your taxi bus "rise again" and my company may use you.

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Posted : April 19, 2009 9:54 pm
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

I only know of one outsider who runs a taxi/tour operation & that's Bruce Flamon. He's a statesider. Have you ever been here before? The taxi drivers are hardly the most welcoming so I wouldn't pin my hopes on this if I were you. Have you been here before? You'd be smart to do an extensive pre-move visit.

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Posted : April 19, 2009 10:06 pm
Ronnie
(@ronnie)
Trusted Member

There are no taxi cab companies. Each one is individually owned. There are some older drivers that lease their plates to newcomers. I would say that a great majority are leased. Some are bought. The values for a taxi medallion varies from island to island with St Thomas weighing in at over $50K. Every year or so there are 5 that are offered in a lottery to veterans only. Other than that, you have to lease unless you can purchase one. You see them in the paper from time to time. There are some 15 taxi associations in the islands, which you can work with, or you can work independently if you care to.

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Posted : April 19, 2009 10:43 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

No one has stated the obvious. We don't use street addresses. Very, very difficult for a newcomer to even figure out where to go, other than the big resorts and usual tourist spots. Someone can't hop in your cab and say 123 ABC Street. Just doesn't work that way. It's more like Estate ABC, by the big church on the corner, take a left and then go to Caleb's grocery and it's the 5th yellow house on the left across from the basketball court where the kids play on Saturday.

Might be a good idea to have an alternative profession until you get to know the lay of the land.:-)

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Posted : April 20, 2009 12:49 am
terry
(@terry)
Expert

Boy you're right on.
I was looking for a house that was for sale in Mt Welcome. I couldn't find Mt Welcome on any maps. I asked several people who got me in the general area. I asked one guy and he said " just go down this road and turn at the old gas station". So off I went. I drove up and down that road two or three times until I finally figured out the old gas station was the cement slab that was almost completely obscured by the overgrown brush.:@)

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Posted : April 20, 2009 1:51 am
Edward
(@Edward)
Trusted Member

Driving on the left is the least of your problems. Juanita nailed it. Even if you have $50,000 for the medallion, you will have an incredibly difficult time just getting your pax to where they want to go.

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Posted : April 20, 2009 6:58 am
tstamp
(@tstamp)
Active Member

Thank you for all the great information you've provided me. You've done an excellent job painting a picture of what one could expect. I am confused on one point, though it may not make much difference. Do you need to have a medallion regardless of whether you operate a pirate taxi or only if you drive for one of the owners via lease? I couldn't make heads or tails out of that.

I will say this, With regards to my own company here in Iowa, a capitol city no less, we must be the only ones in the United States that do not need a medallion to operate. The city doesn't even offer one. Just a simple $35 license and your turned loose on the road. Very liberal.

I have actually never set foot on the Virgin Islands, but I sure wasn't about to let that be a stumbling block. I will say this, I need a conducive scenario, plug and play if you will, for me to justify transplanting myself down there. Since I am not independently wealthy (in which case I wouldn't even need a job), I would need to be able to just begin working. With the ideas and information you have presented to me, the situation is obviously not ideal. Thanks for your help.

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Topic starter Posted : April 20, 2009 7:57 am
Edward
(@Edward)
Trusted Member

I lived in Iowa for some13 years. Believe me: VI is not IA! 🙂 Good luck!

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Posted : April 20, 2009 8:04 am
tstamp
(@tstamp)
Active Member

I lived in Iowa for some13 years. Believe me: VI is not IA! 🙂 Good luck!

I would never suggest that it is. However, any monkey can drive a cab from point A to point B, so I figured why drive a cab in Iowa when I may be able to do so in a more beautiful location? That in a nutshell was, and still is, my motivation.

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Topic starter Posted : April 20, 2009 8:14 am
Ronnie
(@ronnie)
Trusted Member

It's on the job training. If you pick someone up that wants to go a specific address I am sure they would tell you the way. We have countless taxi drivers from elsewhere that learned somehow, whether by feel or years of driving around, who knows? It's not going to be easy. You only need a chauffeur's license. After that, if you will be leasing someone's plates, they keep the medallion.

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Posted : April 20, 2009 10:51 am
Marty on STT
(@Marty_on_STT)
Trusted Member

Also, it seems as though these medallions are like gold here...as Ronnie mentioned, fifty grand is what you may need just to get a medallion...then you need $$ for a vehicle and insurance...plus the CDL...then, you may need another couple hundred thousand to keep repairing your vehicle, as the folks born and raised here, that have inherited their medallions from family, see outsiders as horning in on what is rightfully theirs and may be less than welcoming...meaning your vehicle is always getting flat tires/broken windows/sugar in your gas tank/etc....and that is if you are an African-American....Caucasians will probably find it harder, as they are easier to spot, ya know? Obviously, this is not a hard and fast rule, but it does happen...

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Posted : April 20, 2009 5:06 pm
DUN
 DUN
(@DUN)
Trusted Member

Ah, forgive me, I can`t resist!

First, let me say below isn`t ALL taxis in St. Thomas, just most that I`ve encountered & observed & friends who work on the Crownbay/Havensite had told me about.

1: You must be rude, suck your teeth at all you encounter & charge fat people for 2 seats(embarrass them until they do)!
2: You must be inconsiderate, stop & bark fares,drive as slow as possible, never pull over to screw all those people waiting behind you!
Also, don`t forget to cut in front of all cars by Fort Christen, then turn right at the last possible moment...
3: You must be a thief, always charge more than your supposed to & use a list of reasons many other drivers use to justify them.
If you run a tour, provide nothing, charge $45 a head for a 1/2 day tour, sell .25 Kmart water for a buck, bring `em back early to cash in on the afternoon tours.
4: You must be a tax evader, hang out with your fellow taxi drivers & send your bucks to offshore accounts(this is one thing ALL taxi driver/commissions agree on)!
5: You must stop ALL other business that may compete, now matter how good or practical it is for our visitors, or how much congestion it alleviates for our locals!
6: You must be part of Celistino Whites campaign, don`t worry, even though you will pay little or no taxes, you`ll have PLENTY of political power!

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Posted : April 21, 2009 12:37 am
DUN
 DUN
(@DUN)
Trusted Member

You don`t NEED to have a criminal history(unless you run for senate!)< in the US, if your a criminal, you cannot hold office.

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Posted : April 21, 2009 1:15 am
jay
 jay
(@jay)
Advanced Member

Dun, you hit that one right on!!!!
When I hear the Safari drivers tell people the ride is $5 or $7 or whatever, it drives me crazy. At the very least they should be required to post the "dollar taxi" on the side. The governor's office should be all over that...

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Posted : April 21, 2009 5:57 pm
Betty
(@Betty)
Trusted Member

It seems like tourism is going to slow way down, especially now. I would think a new guy would find it near to impossible to make any money for the next year driving a taxi, but maybe I'm wrong. That would be the number one reason I would reconsider this idea. You can easily find your way around in a week or two. But I don't know how you make money without tourist. Especially since one round trip taxi ride is usually more then the daily cost of a rental car.

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Posted : April 21, 2009 6:41 pm
antillean
(@antillean)
Advanced Member

don't taxi drivers also have to carry a pistol to brandish occasionally - or something like that 🙂

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Posted : April 21, 2009 8:14 pm
Juanita
(@Juanita)
Expert

On the flip-side, the taxi driver never knows who he/she is picking up. Several have been robbed, even killed, over the years.

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Posted : April 21, 2009 9:59 pm
Trade
(@Trade)
Expert

I guess that's why none of them want to take me home when I need a ride. :-X

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Posted : April 21, 2009 10:04 pm
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