Archive for Tuesday, October 2, 2001

Security hinders Fort Riley access

Travelers, taxi companies limited by base’s protective measures

October 2, 2001

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— New security rules that restrict nearly all civilian access to defense installations have left Junction City taxi companies reeling and caused disruptions for travelers trying to get from Fort Riley to airports in other cities.

Owners of the A-One Cab Co. and Bell Taxi Transportation Inc. say their business has been cut in half since the restrictions were imposed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"I think Fort Riley's hands are tied by instructions coming from some place beyond Fort Riley," said Glenn Puett, owner of Bell Taxi.

Bell also operates Road Runner Express, which shuttles travelers to and from Kansas City International Airport. Since access was restricted on Sept. 11, Puett has been unable to honor tickets held by Fort Riley residents who bought tickets to get to Kansas City.

Soldiers who want rides to Kansas City can meet the shuttle in Junction City or Manhattan.

"As to how they get there, they're going to have to figure that out," Fort Riley spokeswoman Deb Skidmore said. "Being soldiers, they may have to catch a ride with a friend, whatever."

Before Sept. 11, Bell's taxis picked up Fort Riley travelers at their door and brought them to the shuttle terminal on time. Now, Puett said his shuttles often run late when drivers wait for Fort Riley passengers to arrive at the terminal in Junction City.

Soldiers who want to return to Fort Riley after visiting Junction City are basically left to their own devices. Puett said his drivers have dropped off soldiers at the edge of post who have had to wait up to two hours for military police to drive them to their quarters.

"There basically is not a shuttle service on post," Skidmore said. She knew of no plans to improve public transit for soldiers or their families on post. An Army taxi service is available, but only for official business.

Puett said he has contacted Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to discuss the situation. He said an officer from the post Provost Marshall's Office has called him to collect information about cab drivers who might be allowed on post.

But Kim Hamilton, manager of A-One Cab, said the senator's office had been unable to assist her company.

"I've been speaking to them, too. They can't do anything for us," Hamilton said.

Retired soldiers who otherwise are allowed on Fort Riley are not allowed to drive taxis on post.

Of A-One's normal eight or nine drivers, only four are now working and business is slow for them, Hamilton said. Without access to Fort Riley, the business could fold, she said.

"If it stays this way, I'm sure it's a possibility," Hamilton said.

The post also is wrestling with parcel deliveries to residence.

On Sept. 26, the post announced that parcel companies would not be allowed to deliver packages to residential quarters because searching the truckloads of packages was taking too much time from guards at the gate. Two days later, Skidmore said the policy had been revised to allow parcel companies to deliver packages to soldiers' quarters.

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