Almost all the drivers who provide rides to Rappahannock residents do so in their own cars.
Gary Ford takes a different approach. He does the driving, but he uses his passengers’ cars.
In fact, he’s turned it into a business, Integrity Chauffeur & Transportation, which he’s been running for almost 12 years now.
The arrangement allows Ford to significantly reduce the cost of long drives for himself and his riders. He gives the example of a trip to Dulles International Airport, a drive he makes fairly often.
“If you hired me as a car service to take you to Dulles, it would cost you at least $150,” Ford said. “If I drive your car, I’d charge you $60. That’s my minimum. You don’t need a car. You need a person to get you there.”
By being simply a driver, as opposed to a formal car service, Ford can legally avoid such costs as commercial insurance and “For Hire” tags. “The overhead kills you with a car service,” he said.
Ford, whose day job is as a Fedex driver, goes to his customers’ homes, then switches to their cars for the drive. When a return trip is involved, such as when the drive is to one of the region’s airports, Ford returns to the person’s home for their car, then picks them up. That, he points out, allows them to avoid dealing with shuttle buses and paying for long-term parking.
Mike Sands, owner of Bean Hollow Grassfed in Flint Hill and someone who often travels to Chicago, appreciates that. “I use Integrity on a regular basis. The combination of having someone else driving at 4:30 a.m. and cost savings over not having to pay for parking for a week makes it well worth it.”
Ford said he and his team of three other drivers also take people to medical appointments, and to social events and parties, for which they act as “designated drivers.” During busy months, he said, the group has handled more than 30 rides.
“I do have some people who will call and want to have a driver take them to dinner and drive them home. But $60 (the minimum fee) may be a lot for them to pay,” he said. “Or someone may want to go from Sperryville to spend the day in Warrenton, and have us take them home. But we can’t really afford to sit around for five hours in a case like that.”
Ford estimates that more than 90 percent of his business comes from Rappahannock. “Although I live in Culpeper, I feel I’m actually at home in Rappahannock.”