The need for safe and reliable transportation for local seniors prompted one woman to launch a franchise of Driverseat Inc., a dual chauffeur and shuttle service.
Debbie Reed, owner of Driverseat Niagara, purchased the franchise in March but was forced to stall the official launch due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Manager Lynn Howell says the company is back on track now, with a “soft launch” of services on Canada Day.
The company specializes in providing shuttle services to airports, transportation for winery and brewery tours, and just “nights out,” Howell said. It also provides professional chauffeur services, with four employed chauffeurs to drive a client’s own car to and from their destination.
“We’re not a taxi or Uber service, and we’re not the Greyhound buses – we’re the middle guy that provides a really unique white glove service,” she said. “We offer water, we'll offer some snacks in the vehicle and we'll make sure that they're comfortable.”
Howell said she and Reed decided to look into a reliable transportation service after living in Niagara-on-the-Lake and struggling to find acceptable transportation for their parents while working full-time.
“We had some senior parents, one was on dialysis three days a week, one had Alzheimer’s and my mother was in a home with a physical disability. We realized there was a real need for some kind of loyal, dedicated, professional transportation for our folks to get back and forth to where they needed to go,” she said.
Now, with Driverseat Niagara up and running, she said families can turn to the company to help get seniors where they need to go while still being able to work full-time.
“Usually if it's a consistent client we'll have the same chauffeur every time. We will help the seniors into the doctor's offices, if they so need. We will stay with them if they do need that as well. For any taking notes or anything like that, so we're helping families be able to still work and still take care of their seniors,” she said.
While the initial inspiration stemmed from the need to help transport seniors and vulnerable citizens “efficiently, effectively and safely,” Howell said the plan evolved into providing more services to “fill the gap” between a basic taxi and large buses.
And though COVID-19 halted the initial launch, the company rose to meet the needs of the community to offer a free Shop and Drop program to help seniors and vulnerable citizens pick up groceries and medication.
“We were doing that for free, where we pick up groceries, and we deliver them right to their door for them. So, we did that for a long time until just recently. We still offer it, but we offer a very minimal charge now,” she said.
Howell and Reed worked in the transportation logistics industry “forever” and Howell said the new venture was a natural step for the two women.
The company is “strictly” following regulations to keep clients safe during the pandemic, she said. Each vehicle has a plexiglass barrier installed, temperatures are taken before clients are allowed in and masks must be worn during transportation, she said.
Pricing and specific services offered can be found online at driverseatinc.com/locations/driverseat-niagara/.