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'Tired' Turner to trim down sedan service

June 30, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Almost four years after getting out of the taxi service, George Turner is scaling back his sedan service by no longer providing local rides.

"I'm tired. I need a break and there are some other people around town now doing it," Turner said Tuesday in a telephone interview. Turner's family has had a taxi or sedan business since 1969.

Financial and personal reasons led him to scale back from 23 vans to four or five, Turner said. He kept a few vans to continue to provide sedan service, on a reservation basis, to long-time customers needing out-of-town rides to places such as metropolitan airports and hospitals.

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Turner said the sedan service, known as Turner Van Service, stopped taking local rides last week.

Starting Tuesday, customers calling the sedan service were greeted by an automated message advising them to call Four State, a taxi and sedan service, if they needed a local taxi or voucher ride. Turner also is subcontracting some work to Four State, he said.

Turner customers with charge accounts should call his trucking company, Turner Transportation Group Inc. on Florida Avenue, to determine whether Turner's sedan service can still accommodate them.

On Dec. 1, 2000, Turner switched his taxi service to a sedan service, mainly because he was fed up with having his cars and drivers be "unwilling participants" in drug deals, he said then.

A sedan service gave Turner Van Service greater discretion to turn away fares than Turner Taxi did. Taxi regulations required the company to pick up anyone who hailed or called a cab, whereas a sedan service can be more selective and pick up only customers with a reservation, Turner said.

Since 2000, more sedan services have started in the area so Turner Van Service was making less money, Turner said.

"At some point, it just wasn't worth it financially," he said.

He said he finds his trucking business - which requires less effort, time and stress - more rewarding.

Turner, 59, who lives north of Hagerstown, also said he wants to spend more time with his five grandchildren.

Turner said he laid off four employees.

Turner hired at least six of his sedan drivers at his trucking company. He said he gave some of his sedan drivers their own vehicles, at a deep discount, so they could go to work for another service.

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