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  1. #1

    Question rate per mile for shuttle?

    My understanding is that some shuttle drivers will quote a price while others just tell you their mileage and let you determine what you think is fair. What are going rates for shuttles? When the shuttle mileage is quoted at their total RT miles - from their home to pick-up point to drop-off point back to their home - what is the normal range considered fair per mile? (I'm looking at 2 fairly long shuttles for a two-week section hike. I'm parking in the middle, shuttling to the beginning, then afterward shuttling from the end back to my car.)

  2. #2
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    If its a legal insured shuttle, its going to cost a lot, usually over $1 a mile for total miles traveled by the driver which is typically double the distance the hiker is riding. Its also very dependent on the road network in the area as trail miles are sometimes much shorter than road miles for a shuttle. In Maine and NH there are many trail sections where 30 trail miles may require 120 road miles. There are plenty of uninsured folks that pop up where you will pay less, they just run under the radar with private liability insurance on their car and hope they never have a severe accident as the insurance company may not pay out if they find that the accident happened during a shuttle. Alternatively they may have few assets so decide that they do not have lot to lose when they get sued by an injured person they are shuttling. These folks usually pop up via PMs when folks are looking for a ride or local hostels keep an informal list of these folks if they do not run their own. If you hear "pay for gas and a tip" you know you are dealing with an unlicensed shuttle. Many are nice folks usually retired who do it to get out and help out, others do it to make a buck under the table.

    The tough thing is these under the radar shuttlers make it so that legit shuttles cant make a living so there are not a lot of legit shuttlers available that can legitimately advertise. If you are lucky there may be Uber and Lyft services available in the area and then there is some assurance that the driver is insured but at least in my area no one does it as its usually a deadhead drive with little opportunity to book a return ride. The reality is anyone running a legit shuttle is not making a lot of money. The IRS rate which is supposed to cover the actual overall cost to travel per mile is around 55 cents, that leaves 45 cents as potential profit. The driver also has to pay taxes on his income. So lets set up 50 mile shuttle. The driver needs to travel at least double the distance if they live at either end point or anywhere along the way so they are driving 100 miles. That is $45 potential profit. Its probably rural roads so optimistically figure 40 MPH so add in time for pick up and drop off and the driver is lucky to get done in less than 3 hours. So that is $15 a hour minus taxes. Few shuttlers are busy full time so hours spent waiting for a customer to call are no income but they are still paying for fixed expenses.

    Note having that intermediate stop is going to cost a lot more. You may want to consider sending a box to post office or hostel halfway for a resupply and just spot the car at the end of the hike. I also have stashed a container for resupply at an intermediate point in the past but is hard to do if you do not know the area.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 07-01-2019 at 07:15.

  3. #3

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    I have never had a shuttle to tell me to pay them what I thought was fair. I have had a shuttle to tell me if I didn't have it don't worry about it ( I would tell the name of the shuttle driver but I don't want to disclose that), of course I did have it and I paid him. But as a standard they tell me a price and that is what I pay. I only tip if the shuttle driver is not the owner, and if it was a good shuttle experience.

    I have always estimated the following:
    South of Harpers ferry $1/ mile of trail you are walking. If it is a remote stretch that requires more than an hour of driving then double that.
    Example: The Smokies. Only about 30 miles of trail between Davenport Gap and newfound gap - $90-$120 shuttle.

    North of Harpers Ferry $2/ mile of trail you are walking.

    I do not calculate anything at all when getting a shuttle. Sometimes I don't even call more then 1 shuttle driver. If the cost matches 1 of those two criteria then I let it go, im not trying to divide the dollars down to the miles. They have their prices and I go with it.

    I look at it like this, My hobby is cheap. I go many days of my vacation without spending a dime so if it cost me $100 bucks to walk the trail for a week then that's about $14.25 a day to live the dream for a while.

    Another fair way to look at it is about $100-$150 per week/ 100 miles of trail you are doing.

  4. #4
    El Sordo
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    FWIW, I try to figure out my total driving time and charge $20/hr my time rounded up to the nearest half an hour.
    Dyslexics Untie!

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    So if you average 20 mph, you are charging $1.00 per Your mile. If you go faster than that, you're giving rides for less than $2+ per passenger mile.
    In the example suggested 2 posts up, Newfound Gap to Davenport Gap, it's maybe a 3 hour round trip and 66 miles each way. If you charge $60 for that, the hiker is paying just under $1 per mile driven.
    Would you charge more if you had more than one passenger?
    Last edited by Mike Goodman; 07-06-2019 at 18:34.

  6. #6

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    Depending on the gas prices at the time I charge $1.25 to $1.50 per mile calculated x the one way trip mileage. Depending on the shuttle if it's a long one I may think the total price is too much with that calculation and will drop the total price down because I was a trailangel first and a shuttler second. I do not charge injured or sick hikers to take to an urgent care.

    On another note - This year I have less shuttles because of uber and lyft to the point of some hikers scheduling me and then at the last minute cancelling saying they found another ride. I believe they schedule me in case they didn't get an uber response! Others recently I have asked while communicating who they chose instead of me and they say uber because they saved $10. I try to understand them wanting to save $ but I think it is rude and disrespectful to me, a long time trail family member, when hikers choose uber( a stranger) rather than a member of the trail family. So when I have saved their number in my phone I put a black smiley face in front of their name because I have blacklisted them especially those that have cancelled me last minute.

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    That still seems very angelic if you charge $1.25 +/- per mile that you are actually transporting the hiker. For your total miles, you're getting maybe 60 cents per mile. This is normal compensation for wear and tear on a vehicle (plus gas), and essentially nothing for your time and inconvenience.

    When you get into miles that are on tortuous dirt roads, time spent loading and unloading or just waiting, you must decide if you want to make this a sustainable activity, or if it just drains your resources. Eventually your car breaks down and must be replaced.

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    every shuttle driver has to charge what they have to charge to survive and to continue to help hikers get to where they need to go. you have to figure in all your costs to run a vehicle 300 to 500 hundred miles a day with weight in the vehicle. twisting mtn roads wear tires down in 20 to 30 thousand miles. dirt rds pop tires on a monthly basis, shocks need to be replaced every year if you are breaking off 100000 miles a year with a car. full engine tune ups are done twice a year. oil changes every week. fuel fill ups twice a day, brakes and rotors every couple months have to be changed. i'm commercially insured full coverage also. there is so much more to running around here in the mtns than just driving gap to gap. I charge according to where I have to go, the time it take to get there, and by mile. I usually get right around a dollar a mile. i know what i need to get to run my vehicle and have done a lot of miles out here so i have set prices for most of my runs. every one has to charge a different price. anyways that is a little tidbit of info from my experience …. peace and safe travels.

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    I would think the per-mile or per-hour price you charge is independent of how many hours or miles you do shuttling. Insurance costs are fixed, but otherwise the wear and tear and maintenance and gas should be paid for by the job.
    So if you shuttle 100 miles in a year or 100,000, your $1 per mile should be equally appropriate, yes?

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    you have to do more than one run to make a dollar a mile and have fair pricing. you cannot do one run and make a fair price in my eyes. let say someone wants to go from the noc to winding stair gap. it is 63 miles for me to get to noc and 39 miles to get to winding stair and 53 miles to get back to the starting point. ( my house ) that is 155 miles give or take a few miles. that for me is around 5 to 6 gallons of gas and prices for my state are around 2.59 to 2.89 depending if you are in the country or near the city. that comes out to around 18 dollars. now add in my brakes, oil changes, rotors, shocks, spark plugs. water pumps, belts, the interior of your vehicle, tires, and of course your time. that ride will take approximately 3 and 1/2 to 4 hours for a full round trip. now I drive a brand new 2019 vehicle that is rated number one in safety on the market right now be cause I worry about the safety of my customers. that is my first priority is making sure the customer is safe and we make sure that we drive the speed limit and make sure that our rider is happy and gets full vip treatment. I charge 60 bucks to go from noc to winding stair gap no matter how many folks are riding. 60 dollars is what It takes to have my vehicle sit in my driveway for a day. so before I even pull my vehicle out of the driveway I need to put 60 dollars into it to make sure I can continue to run at a professional level. you cannot make money and keep a legit business going on one ride charging decent prices. most of these guys do not have the insurance to cover the rider if a accident were to happen. some are charging less way less than me too. the only way I make a dollar a mile is to put together numerous rides everyday and drive for 12 hours a day and than I will bring in right around a dollar a miles. people only see the small part of the picture and the fun part of doing this, but to do it professionally is more than meets the eye. peace and safe travels. I hope this helps answer some questions

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    I just want to throw in there that you do get a 55 cents a miles tax write off if you are paying taxes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thefurther View Post
    ... someone wants to go from the noc to winding stair gap. it is 63 miles for me to get to noc and 39 miles to get to winding stair and 53 miles to get back to the starting point. ( my house ) that is 155 miles ... I charge 60 bucks to go from noc to winding stair gap no matter how many folks are riding.
    Now I may be more confused than before.
    You only get $60 for 4 hours of driving and 155 miles ?
    The hiker is going 39 miles with you at $1.54 per mile... And a group of 3 hikers would each be getting there for 51 cents a mile?

    My impression was that $1 per mile is for the miles you have to drive. And $60 for 155 miles is only 0.39 per mile.

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