GUALO RAI Saipan — A company with nine 2003 Toyota Echos opened business on Oct. 28 providing a call-a-ride door-to-door taxi service at a minimum fare of $3.

Melvin K.M. Pangelinan operations manager of Tropical Island Transportation Services said he and his two partners obtained a loan for $100 000 from a bank following a lot of market research on the feasibility of running the outfit in lieu of the absence of a mass transit system on the island.

All customers have to do is call the company at 285-8487 or radio them at 6*83442 tell the person at the other end where they want to be picked up and dropped and wait for about two minutes for their ride.
"Our overhead cost is very minimal. It doesn’t transfer down to the customer " Pangelinan said. He said $3 covers the first four miles. "But if the destination is near the end of the fourth mile we’ll charge the same fare " he said.

Moreover he said that if two or three passengers have to be picked up from the location and dropped off at the same destination only one of them will be charged $3 the rest will be charged only a dollar each. This is targeted at groups of people needing a ride.

Pangelinan said the company is also working on a promotional offer where a customer gets a free ride after having five rides.

For the holidays he said the company will offer a free ride home to customers that were dropped at bars and nightspots as a gesture of support for the government’s anti-drug and drunk driving campaign. He said this promo may take place on Christmas Eve Christmas Day New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Taxi operators on Saipan mainly cater to tourists. Their flag down rate is $2.50 then 75¢ is charged for every quarter mile.

According to Pangelinan the company will not be competing with the taxi operators which usually are on stand by at hotel parking lots. "We are not targeting tourists. We have a different market " he said referring to the island’s guest workers — most do not own cars.

Pangelinan said the company is also working with authorities at Saipan International Airport to be issued parking permits to pick up passengers. MBJ