July 31, 2005 – Kaya Julian, owner of Kaya's Taxi and Tours, says, "St. Croix is the place. It is as close to the biblical Eden as one gets."
Julian was born on St. Lucia. He moved to St. Croix as an infant. He then spent some time working on St. Thomas and in Orlando, Fla.
However, he made his way back to St. Croix in 1994, bought his own taxi van, and does not plan to leave. He has four children and a girlfriend.
On a recent Sunday morning, as he sat in his cab with the driver's door open, he laughed as he explained, "Business is terrible."
He does most of his business out of downtown Christiansted, so does not get passengers that the cabs stationed at the airport and Buccaneer Resort get. He said, "We need to get the cruise ships back."
Although he does offer island tours, he also handles a lot of local business. He says, "I am a taxi. I will deal with you local or tourists."
When he was living on St. Thomas he worked at a resort hotel in guest services. He says it was guests who encouraged him to go into business on his own.
He says that even though at times it just seems "to be working to pay the bills," he is glad that he got into the business.
The skyrocketing price of gas has added to his woes. He says he used to be able to fill up the gas tank in his van for about $36 and now it is over $70. "Imagine that," he says, "when you have to fill up just about every morning." He added that the cost of taxi rides has not gone up in many years.
He doesn't as a rule do the Centerline Road, two-dollar taxi rides, but he says, "If I am going to Frederiksted and I am not in a hurry, to help with the gas, I will pick up a couple riders."
According to Julian, the ending of the Danish charter flights had no affect on the taxi cab drivers. "The Danish just liked to walk around town." He said some taxi drivers were glad that the Danish charters ended. "Now, we don't have to keep asking them if they want a cab."
Christiansted doesn't have a line system, where whichever taxi is up next gets the next customer; instead whoever happens to get the next customer gets them. Kaya says that he would actually prefer a line system so "Everyone did not have to keep asking every one who walks by if they need a cab."
Julian gave the opinion that the government could spend its money much more wisely than subsidizing the flights of Danish tourists. He says, "Maybe somebody profited from their visits, but we did not."
He also gave the opinion that people were not traveling as much because they were still afraid of what was going on in Iraq and because of incidents like the recent bombing in London.
Even though his livelihood depends on tourism, Julian wishes there was more of a focus on agriculture on the island. He says, "We have good soil. We have good weather. When the Danes had the island, we produced most of the food we needed."
He said he likes his job so much because he likes "meeting new people." Most of the tourists he gets are from the states. He says, "I love showing them and selling them the island."
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