Cindy Hicks recently picked up two seniors in Minden to take them to the GO-VAXX bus at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena and community centre.
They were some of the first clients of Happy Trails Senior Transportation, a new business Hicks has launched offering rides to medical appointments and for shopping across the Highlands and the wider region.
Hicks, who uses a Subaru Crosstrek, sat with the seniors in the car Oct. 13 while the GO-VAXX team brought the vaccines to them. After the shots, she had to stay for 15 minutes to ensure the seniors were okay and then Hicks drove them home.
“They were so grateful because they didn’t have to get out of the car,” Hicks said.
The entrepreneur recently moved back to the area after having lived in Peterborough. She worked at the Dominion Hotel over the summer but after Labour Day decided to have a crack at her own seniors’ transportation business.
Hicks had been a volunteer driver for Community Care in Peterborough and also drove for Meals on Wheels, so it is not completely new territory.
However, she said there is a difference between Haliburton County and the city of Peterborough. For example, she said it would cost hundreds of dollars for a senior to take a taxi from the County to Lindsay.
So, she started figuring out what she might be able to charge that a senior could afford, still covering her own costs and making a living. So far, she has come up with a base rate of 66 cents a kilometre for mileage and $20 an hour for her time. However, she noted, “every case is going to be different.”
“It’s not a whole lot but it’s still going to help me cover my gas. It gives me a job. I’m basically trying to create employment for myself, working Monday to Friday and having my weekends off so I can visit with my kids on the weekends,” she said.
In talking to seniors, she added some are telling her they cannot afford her rates so she is happy to refer them to Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS), which has a volunteer driver program.
When she was driving for Community Care in Peterborough, she enjoyed it. “It’s fun to talk to people. And clients are really grateful.” She hopes to continue that with Happy Trails Senior Transportation.
She noted she can put mobility devices, such as walkers, in the all-wheel drive car.
It’s early days, with Hicks saying, “I’m just trying to get the business going and I’m getting lots of phone calls.” She said she has been asked for a price on taking someone to Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay for a colonoscopy, for example, or Peterborough for shopping. “That’s all stuff I can do.”
She said she does not want to drive to Toronto but is looking at Barrie, Bracebridge, Huntsville, Lindsay, Orillia and Peterborough. She has commercial insurance, a Moneris machine so people can pay with debit or credit cards, and issues tax receipts.
Contact Hicks at 705-457-0850.