If you lived in Killeen, Texas, you’d probably think it would be easier to fly out of the Killeen Airport than any other place. After all, the nearest airport is 70 minutes away in Austin. But because of limited flights in Killeen, more and more people are choosing to fly out of Austin.
That simple realization opened the door to a brand-new shuttle service that drives Killeen residents to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and takes them back to their homes in Killeen. Starting a local shuttle service was the idea of Felecia Fogle, a 44-year old Killeen resident who made many trips into Austin to pick up numerous relatives when her mom passed away several years ago. And Felicia’s shuttle service is just one of many that are exploding across the country, as entrepreneurs are starting shuttle services with fleet vans and passenger vans to meet the local transportation needs of residents.
Everyone Benefits from the Service
In Washington State, Island Transit providesa van pool for social service agencies. The service, known as Ridelink, uses a fleet of multipassenger vans to transport clients for outings, work programs and health services.
The service is designed to pick up where fixed-route bus service and para-transit leaves off. Residents are able to utilize the service to get to work or to appointments. The vans are able to use the HOV lanes on freeways, and are allowed on the island ferries for no charge. Only the passengers have to pay a free.
As the population ages, many entrepreneurs are starting their own shuttle services to accommodate those who have either given up driving or are too infirm to drive. In addition to serving an elderly population who needs non-emergency medical transportation, working parents require transport for their children to outside activities like soccer practices. Both categories are ideal for shuttle vans to transport riders.
More Economical Than You Think
The concept of a van shuttle service sounds expensive, but in reality it’s far more economical to start than you might think. The cost of shuttle vans has come down in recent years, mostly due to the availability of passenger conversion vans. Now, multiple passengers can ride in comfort in large SUVs and passenger vans that have been converted to accommodate multiple passengers. It’s also less costly to purchase a wheelchair accessible conversion van for the same reasons.
As with any startup business, your first step is to prepare a business plan. You’ll want to research your market, as well as any and all current competition that could impact your overall profitability. There are many resources on the Internet that you can access to help put your business plan together, as well as to help with the research required.
Perhaps the most costly aspect of starting a shuttle service is liability insurance, and you’re going to want plenty in order to protect yourself from any potential lawsuits due to accidents. Each state has its own licensing requirements, so you’ll need to do some homework to find out what is required.
Some states prohibit picking up passengers from their homes, otherwise it would require a taxi license or medallion. So you might need to make arrangements with some major retailer or shopping center to have a pickup and drop-off point for your shuttle service.
Once you have your business plan in place and you’ve researched the competition, you’ll need to put together a marketing plan to gain customers for your service. You’ll also need to determine whether to purchase your vehicles and finance them or lease them. It would be wise to sit down with your accountant to see which approach is best for your unique financial needs.
The main reason that many entrepreneurs are getting into the shuttle service is because it’s a growing business, and will continue to do so as more and more people reach older age. With the right approach, it can be a very profitable venture.