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Taxi rates

 

OnSTJ
(@onstj)
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July 18, 2022 1:06 pm  

The past three times I've been on St. Thomas I've been overcharged by taxi drivers. I understand fuel (and everything else) is incredibly costly right now but set rates are set rates and it irks me to be taken advantage of. In recent instances I decided it's not worth the fight but the next time I have to travel, I'd like to be prepared. How would you respond if a driver charged you more than what you know the price to be? (As an example, from Red Hook to the airport it's $15 per person including luggage based on published rates, last time I went to the airport I was charged $20 per person). 


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stjohnjulie
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July 19, 2022 2:56 am  

I usually confirm the rate with the dispatcher and driver before I get in the taxi.   ‘Me when Lisa my bag to the airport is $15, correct?’   And if they confirm that amount is correct (which it is) I tend to mention there will be a tip as well.  Beat to do all this right by the rate sign so there is no confusion.  The taxi drivers get away with so many things.  I would say that their income is severely under reported in most cases.  


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vicanuck
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July 19, 2022 8:52 am  

Taxi services in the VI are a cartel controlled by a mafia-like organization with incredible power over the local government and economy.

I find it hard to believe in this day and age that they've been successful in thwarting any form of competition (Uber, Lyft, etc.) but somehow they have.

Personally, in the almost 20 years that I've lived in the VI, I've never taken a taxi once, and never will.

The taxi system is in dire need of modernization which will come only when the old guard mafioso eventually die or are killed off with technology.


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jaldeborgh
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July 19, 2022 6:44 pm  

One problem with services like Uber or Lyft is the lack of real addresses.  Usually you need to input your destination before you can summon a ride.  


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vicanuck
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July 20, 2022 8:50 am  

@jaldeborgh

I have to disagree. The VI is very well mapped by Google and although we lack a proper "addressing" system, Google knows where everything is. >90% of smart phone have Google and location services are always on these devices by default and this data is stored and aggregated by Google.

I have an AirBNB and send my guests a Google Maps link to the house which gets them to the front door every time. My guests use Google Maps extensively to navigate the island and rarely ever have we had a guest get lost. I even use Google Maps myself to find unfamiliar places and I'm always impressed that Google Maps even shows the traffic slowdowns and suggests faster routes like it does on the mainland.

So, I don't buy that old "we don't have proper addresses" excuse because proper addresses aren't needed for ride share technology when I can send a Google pin to a ride share provider enabling him/her to find my home with a high degree of accuracy.

Taxi service is a cartel run monopoly and the taxi mafia likes it that way.

But, this too will change over time.


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jaldeborgh
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July 20, 2022 12:18 pm  

@vicanuck I have a masters degree, worked in the semiconductor equipment industry for 90% of my 44 year career, have traveled more than 6M miles plus I’m the family nerd and I have no idea how I could ask Uber to get to my house on STX (assuming they were operating on the island).  I’m not sure how I would instruct a Taxi to find my house, if I wasn’t in the car.

You have apparently figured it out but for us mere mortals it’s a royal pain in the a$$.  If you saw the address on my deed and tried inputting that into Google Maps you get either nothing or it starts asking you questions. I just tried it again.  Unless I send someone a pin of our location I’m at a loss for what to do.  For most island businesses that I use I typically tell them the name of the people I bought the house from as they lived there for 30 years and were fairly well known in the community.

Address systems were developed over centuries for very practical reasons and virtually everyone understands that system, it’s cultural at this point.  If something is simple and works why not use it. What the island has is confusing to anyone not familiar with the island. 


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vicanuck
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July 20, 2022 12:29 pm  

@jaldeborgh 

See...you don't NEED an address! You send the ride share driver a pin and it brings him right to your door.

When I ordered my Starlink satellite internet kit (absolutely fantastic by the way), my address was determined by the Google Plus Code ( https://maps.google.com/pluscodes/)

You don't need an old school "street address" anymore, you already have a digital address which is much more useful.


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jaldeborgh
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July 20, 2022 2:03 pm  

Yes, you can make it work, providing all parties have the needed hardware and an internet connection.  I still prefer an address, it’s simple, everyone gets it and doesn’t require any technology.

I had signed up for StarLink, got the email that I was accepted and they were ready to ship.  I downloaded the app and ran the reception test a good dozen times and just couldn’t find a spot that the app found acceptable.  We live on top of a hill, with views both north and south but have a few large mahogany trees.  Went to a friends place, who live farther east, with wide open views to the north and east, the app was very happy with their location.  I decided to wait a little longer while SpaceX builds out the satellite coverage.  I’m going to make the switch as soon as I can secure a solid mount with a good signal.

Since buying our home in January 2019 we’ve put a lot of effort into minimizing our dependence on the grid (added solar, battery and a diesel generator) and the internet is the last piece of that puzzle.  The way I see it, you take down the StarLink antenna before a big storm hits and remount it once the storm passes.  Use your cell service during the storm.  Based on the history of our property, built in 1970, we should be okay in all but the most extreme situations.  I’m not fool enough to believe we’ve covered every contingency, only that what we’ve done has been done right. 


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vicanuck
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July 21, 2022 1:30 pm  

@jaldeborgh 

Internet access on smart phones is pretty ubiquitous now. But, taxi drivers have so much power over the legislature that they have somehow prevented technology from improving their business and have thwarted competition resulting in unreasonably high prices and extremely poor service. But, neither of us will be able to fix that.

Regarding Starlink, I didn't even bother to use the app to check for obstructions despite having a few tall trees nearby. I dove right in, bought the kit and installed it. Within a few minutes, I had internet speeds the likes of which I've only ever dreamed of...and no obstructions! You're right too, taking Dishy down in front of a serious storm takes only a moment. Starlink is a game changer for the VI.


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stjohnjulie
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July 22, 2022 3:39 am  

Not sure if this is the case on other islands, but it almost impossible for me to get a taxi from town to my house.  The taxi drivers simply won’t take a single rider to a location that will not have the possibility of pricking up a rider for the return trip.   It’s beyond frustrating to sit at the taxi stand waiting for them to try and find more people going my direction.   I’ve waited over an hour before so I just don’t do that any more.  

we just installed Starlink. What kind of speeds are you getting?   


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vicanuck
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July 22, 2022 8:43 am  
Posted by: @stjohnjulie

we just installed Starlink. What kind of speeds are you getting?   

I usually get about 250 down and 30 up which is fantastically fast for the VI. But, according to SL Support, my Starlink system has an issue as I'm only getting about 95 down and 30 up at the moment. One could hardly complain about that since I used to get 5 down with BBVI. But, by Starlink standards 95 down isn't fast enough.

Yesterday, SL Support decided to send me an entirely new kit; dishy, router, cable and all, along with the RMA tag and DHL labels to send the old system back, all at no charge. Plus, they credited me $95 for a new cable I bought to try to resolve the issue. I've been very impressed with their Support as they do respond quickly. The service is far superior to anything on offer locally.


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stjohnjulie
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July 23, 2022 3:06 am  

That is pretty awesome on the support side for sure.   I’ve tested my speeds and they are wildly different.   The first time I do it it’s usually pretty fast.  But I’ll run it several more times and it’s significantly lower.  Highest has been 219 down 19 up.  But it has been as low as 22 down 4 up.   So I guess I have to get with support and see if they can help me get better.   I currently have VIYA as well and they perform consistently with the max up and down that I pay for.   


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daveb722
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July 24, 2022 12:27 pm  

uber and lyft use your phone's gps to drop a pin at your location of pick up.  You can also store locations in "Saved Places", so it would be pretty easy to get to where you need to go.  Anyways, VICanuck is right, its the taxi mafia holding things up and honestly I don't know why they have any power, it's such a limited amount of people that have medallions anyways.  but there's a wapa mafia as well from my understanding and they will use whatever means possible to get their way.

Starlink is great btw


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VIpirate
(@VIpirate)
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September 18, 2022 8:53 am  

@stjohnjulie 

Surely someone will take you, but of course you will pay a premium rate. I've made contact with a couple of guys in STT who give limo type service to and from the airport and if I have a larger group too big for my Jeep, to and from dinner or other spots.  I'm happy to pay a premium for super reliability and first class service.  

If I was commuting for work that might be different as it could get pricey year round, but I'm on the island a limited time and want to minimize any hassles. 

Good luck, but I'm guessing Uber or Lyft aren't in the near future coming to USVI due to the taxi lobby.  Beyond that, I'm not sure I'd get into a non-taxi vehicle given crime potential on the islands especially after sundown. 


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jaldeborgh
(@jaldeborgh)
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Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 486
September 25, 2022 1:12 pm  

Our strategy for getting to and from the airport is ask a friend for a ride.  We reciprocate and it’s working well for all involved.  If we’re busy we’d just say no but so far the pool of willing friends has been large enough that there’s always been someone to help out.  We’re all retired and I’m sure that helps.


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