Alaska Town Is Home to Hail of Fame

Residents of tiny Bethel never have trouble finding a cab
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2007 8:43 PM CST
Alaska Town Is Home to Hail of Fame
Jay Saliu right, drives Kevin and Esther Smart of Napakiak to the school building in Bethel, Alaska Sunday, May 20, 2007. Bethel has a population of 5,900, but there are 70 taxicabs ferrying locals and visitors around the community. Bethel has population of 5,900, but there are 70 taxicabs ferrying...   (Associated Press)

What American municipality has the most cab drivers per capita? No, not New York. It’s Bethel, Alaska, a town of 5,800 that has 93 cabbies, or one for every 62 residents, the Los Angeles Times reports. With only 10 miles of paved road at their disposal, the cabbies visit a circle of familiar destinations: general stores, post office, hospital, airport.

Cabs are essential for residents, most of them Yupik Eskimos who moved from outlying villages for work. Just to transport a car to Bethel costs a prohibitive $2,000 to $4,000. The cabbies are mostly Albanian or Korean immigrants who heard Alaska was a good place to earn and save. "It doesn't look like the rest of America, but it's America here," says one resident. "Everybody's just trying to make money." (Read more Alaska stories.)

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