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Thread: Shuttle drivers

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    Default Shuttle drivers

    What do you look for in a shuttle driver? Absolute rock-bottom price? Trail knowledge? Supplies? Stimulating conversation? Flexibility? Educate me please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushwhacker88 View Post
    What do you look for in a shuttle driver? Absolute rock-bottom price? Trail knowledge? Supplies? Stimulating conversation? Flexibility? Educate me please.
    more or less pick someone at random and fingers crossed. i'm mostly not likely to ever use them again (because of my hiking habits) either way.

    i suppose if someone didnt respond after a day or so i'd move on to someone else and go with whoever answered first, thats really about the only criteria. have never had any issues with a shuttle at all.

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    I try to book a shuttle with a well known driver or company to avoid any problems (although they still happen). I generally try calling them all to get prices and then schedule with the cheapest one that has availability at my preferred time.

    So basically I look for availability/flexibility on time, then price. I have had some really interesting conversations with drivers before about local landmarks and history, but all were unplanned. Some shuttle drivers know the trail very well and can offer suggestions that you may not have considered.

    One thing I learned (the hard way) to do is double and even triple verify that the shuttle driver has gotten everything correct regarding times and pickup points. Had a shuttle company waiting at my destination instead of pickup spot one time, even after double checking with them that they would be picking me up at x spot at y time. Still messed it up. Luckily for me, another hiker who was also finishing at that spot saw me and asked if I needed a ride.

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    Recommendations, calling a hostel may be helpful in finding a reliable one.

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    I'm pretty much with tdoczi on this, except for one thing. We often DO use shuttle drivers more than once, because we're returning to the same area for another section.

    I can't think of anything to complain about in all the shuttles we've used, except for one that was overpriced. It was our first shuttle, and we didn't have any previous experience to compare to. Some shuttlers are hikers, some aren't. Some are talkative, some aren't. Never had issues with a shuttle not showing up or being unfriendly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    I'm pretty much with tdoczi on this, except for one thing. We often DO use shuttle drivers more than once, because we're returning to the same area for another section.
    only reason i don't these days (i did a couple of times in the past) is as my hikes have gotten farther from home they have gotten longer and the person who shuttles me 100 miles for the section i am currently doing is probably not logistically a good option for the next section 100 miles further along.

    sometimes if a shuttler is in a location that is the start point of one hike and the end point of another i may use them twice, but i generally find there is usually a logistically easier option and as ive never had any major issues i pretty much implicitly trust all shuttlers to get the job done.

  7. #7

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    The ATC Shuttle List is gold. I always use it when looking for a shuttle. I've taken dozens of shuttles over the years and have only had one problem: a college kid working for an outfitter out of the Delaware Water Gap. He was two hours late. Most shuttle drivers that I've used are over 50. If anything they arrive too early.

    But, that does highlight one important recommendation: if you're using a shuttle through a hostel or outfitter that may have a few different drivers, get the name/phone number/email of the actual driver who will be picking you up and confirm with them directly.

    Whenever I schedule a shuttle, I text/email the pickup details. Putting it down in writing is far better than verbally confirming. Then, I confirm again when I'm on the road to the trail.
    Last edited by The Kisco Kid; 06-12-2017 at 11:49.
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    I pretty much just start calling people off of the ATC shuttle list randomly until I find someone that can shuttle me for the dates I need. I do usually try to find some info on the person on here before calling though. In my experience most of the shuttlers I've gotten have been ok to pretty darn good. I did have one wierdo when I did the first part of PA. He showed up on behalf of the guy I set up the shuttle with, and had a crappy van, with a mattress in the back (no seats) and blown shocks. He drove kinda crazy and seemed a little...ummm...should we say odd. Was really glad to get out at the trail head from that one.

    Some of the really good ones I've had that I would highly recommend that are on the current list are Michael Gelinas (PA), Backcountry Outfitters (CT), Vic LaPort (MA), Steve Lake (Apex Hiker Shuttle, NH), Dan (Trail Angels Hiker Services, NH) and Notch Taxi Service (NH).

    Let me get on a soapbox real quick here, so don't read any further if that type of thing is annoying. One is paying for the person's time and wear and tear on their vehicle when getting a shuttle, so don't be a cheapskate. I know not everyone is made of money, but I read a lot of posts on here about people complaining about prices. The convenience of a shuttle cannot be understated, and most of these people are great individuals just earning a living. Soapbox over.
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  9. #9

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    I try to pick a shuttler that is located either within the range of trail I will be hiking or close to an endpoint. The shorter the distance, the shorter the price, generally. You may want to pick easy access points for your trip as well and consider the route they will need to drive not the route you are walking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    I try to pick a shuttler that is located either within the range of trail I will be hiking or close to an endpoint. The shorter the distance, the shorter the price, generally. You may want to pick easy access points for your trip as well and consider the route they will need to drive not the route you are walking.
    Yeah, good point...I forgot to mention it myself, but I do the same thing. Find someone on the list who's address is near one of the end points or in the middle of the section I'm planning to do. Most shuttlers charge mileage from when they leave their house or business, so the closer they are located to my section the cheaper the shuttle usually is.
    JMT - 2013

  11. #11
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    First priority for me has been availability. If they answer the phone and can do the shuttle when I need it, they've probably reeled me in.

    I won't say money is no object, but it's down the list in priority. More important is familiarity with where I'm hiking, so I am confident they know where to pick me up and where to drop me off as I may not know the area well. If they are also a hiker (current or former) that's a bonus as I can hopefully pick their brains regarding water sources and tentsites.

    If they have commercial liability insurance and any necessary local/state/federal permits that is also a bonus. It means they and I am protected, and that they take the shuttling business seriously.

    As a hiker I've used many shuttle services. For a few years I co-operated a popular shuttle service in and near SNP. So I've seen the business from both sides.

    When necessary, I've used a regular commercial taxi service and a friend has used Uber to get from town to a trailhead. Not bad--and sometimes cheaper--than a self-identified AT shuttle service. But you better know exactly where you want to be dropped off because chances are they won't. I'd be less optimistic about trying to get a taxi or Uber to pick me up from the Trail.

    Then there are trail angels. Used them, appreciated them, always offered some $$$ which at times was refused. Experienced trail angels may even know a lot about the trail just like shuttle services. However, I've found many have very limited availability. (To be expected.)

    Last but not least is the crapshoot known as hitchhiking. Sometimes easy, sometimes it takes hours. Tip: the best place to hitch is sometimes NOT right where the Trail meets the road. You need to stand someplace where a driver can see you from far away (not at a curve or other side of the crest of a hill) plus there should be plenty of room for a driver to safely slow down and pull totally off the road. A whole spectrum of good and bad drivers and good and bad vehicles in my hitchhiking experience. Again, I usually offered some $$$ and my sincere appreciation for the ride.
    Last edited by Skyline; 06-13-2017 at 12:43.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushwhacker88 View Post
    What do you look for in a shuttle driver? Absolute rock-bottom price? Trail knowledge? Supplies? Stimulating conversation? Flexibility? Educate me please.
    We use shuttles from the ATC list and have been very pleased, except once. Shuttler gave our info to her dad, but we didn't know this, and he went to the destination instead of the pickup. We heard from her about two hours later, but we had already decided to change our direction and hope to get a shuttle back at the end.


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