Cabs in AlaskaTaxis in Alaska
BETHEL, Alaska-Cheri Boisvert and Matt Janz move homes on walking in the largest city in Alaska's Yukon Kuskokwim Delta. Though it is the goverment and transiting node for about 56 towns, there are almost no cheap transits for its inhabitants.
There are two shuttles in the city, which are part of a system of transport established five years ago. Just ask everyone in the city if they've ever taken the coach, and they'll smile in your face. There are no streets leading into or out of Bethel, so it is unaffordable to import automobiles or other types of vehicle.
But Janz pointed me to the city's informal used vehicle parking facility, where locals are parking old vehicles they want to yours. Toyota RAV-4 from 2003 with 160,000 mileage in Bethel cost $6,000, while the Kelley Blue Book says it's $3,900 in value. Automobiles, even used ones, are outside the pricing ranges of many Bethel residents, and even if you buy them, gasoline currently cost $6 per gal.
Instead, almost everyone in downtown hangs out on cabs or their own two foot to find their way around. In Bethel there are about 70 cabmen, one per 85 inhabitants, which makes it the most per head cabish town. "Our cabs are in a way our means of transport," Leif Albertson, the deputy major, said to me.
Driving in the city is $5 per passenger, no matter how fast it is. Driving to the airports or outskirts is $7, a stopover on the way is $1, plus $1 per min. after three mins. This adds up in a city where 23 per cent of the populace is below the poor.
Tens of men are walking in the trenches along the only asphalted street of Bethel and pulling their legs into the dirt. However, the city is not particularly accessible either. Bethel's paper publishes constant tales of those who have been struck by a car. Nelson, who was in the city for health care.
Said that even the Bethel coach, which cost $3 a trip, was too costly for him (seniors only paid $1). Population census figures show that 1,500 persons commuting to work in Bethel drive alone in a vehicle, lorry or coaches. There are five persons using local transport, 740 carpools and 3,615 commuting by other means.
This means for the Bethelers to walk or take a taxi. In 1975,rances Reichs, who as an informal city history expert organized a week-long broadcast of Bethel's Call In show, came here. Then most of the folks were demoted to leave, he said to me, because there were only three taxis. Two of Nome's brethren then went to the city, and, taking into account the increasing number of workplaces in the city's governing branch and the associated wealthy inhabitants, they resolved to set up a taxi-corporation.
It is now Kusko Kab (many governments have a high adaptation of the costs of life, which is doubled as a danger allowance because Bethel is such an insulated place). Also the cabin operators were diversifying Bethel. In search of staff who had tidy rides and the money to rent a taxicab, businesses began to hire families and acquaintances from abroad.
Today Kusko is known throughout the city as an "Albanian" taxis operator because it mainly uses chauffeurs from Albania and Macedonia. Much of the city's business, as well as many of the movie rentals, is in the hands of Koreans. "There' s a very striking bias of Alaska's indigenous people against overseas citizens," Reichs said to me. A 54-year-old korean taxidriver, Young Suk Chong, was knifed in 2012, her corpse stopped in her car in the freezing snow near a garbage heap.
In 2006, a Kim Kim's daughter, a young man from Korea called Ju Young Joung, was shot dead by a bullet in the neck after someone was approaching his car in a car park on a snowmobile. In the past, it was a profitable business to drive a taxis in Bethel. I asked Joe Yoon, a korean taxidriver, for a rumour that taxidrivers in Bethel earn $100,000 or more, and he mocked me.
It is estimated that around 80 persons are carried around Bethel by young man Youn. Insuring it is $7,000 a year, and he has to give the taxi business $250 a weeks, he said, as well as paying for his taxi fuels and service charges. Bethel's streets, which are all insensitive to soiling, are known to be dustily in summers and freezing in winters, with enough waves and gaps to make most trips unpleasant.
Since Bethel has become less icy and chilly in recent years, more inhabitants have chosen to go on foot instead of taking a taxi, which makes his task more difficult. There are also not so many places where Bethel can go. There'?s only one cinema in the city. In order to make some additional money, some taxi riders are implicated in Bethel's infamous bootleging business, a trend that the locals are trying to prevent.
In 2009, the city elected to get "wet", but the city council did not advise that any shop be given a spirit licence (the state authorises the spirit licences, but looks to the regional government). Drinking boosts abuse and alcoholism in the Alaska shrub, and many of the surrounding towns have forbidden it.
According to the current legislation you can take liquor to Bethel, but you cannot buy or sale it there. However, get into many taxis in Bethel and ask for booze, and the chauffeur will take you to a boatlegger. Others calculate a certain amount to get around drinking and driving around someone, said Mark Springer, a councillor, to me.
Recently Spring presented a bill that would withdraw the driving licence of those who sell liquor from their taxis. Nevertheless, the new inhabitants of Bethel, despite all the strangeness of their city, are obliged. Yoon, the cabbie, left for Anchorage after he heard about the possibility of working in a cafeteria.
He has been in Bethel for 15 years now, and both he and his spouse take a taxi for Quyana Kab. Says that he is planning to live there for the remainder of his Iife. "That' s my home town, I don't mind what anybody thinks, I like it here," he said as he dawdled in line in front of Bethel's big grocery store, where there's almost always a row of taxis.
It is not uncommon for a man and woman to be driving a car in Bethel. In order to see if the relation could work, she wanted him to move to the city where her dad ran a taxicab business. He' s been in Bethel for a year working for Kusko Kab. Next summers the lucky pair marries in Albania and plans to go back to Bethel after a holiday abroad.