Travellers who eschew air travel but need to get to out-of-town appointments now have a personalized service in North Bay.
My Chauffeur is a new, door-to-door option offered by Northern Airport Passenger Service, which expands on the scheduled driving service already offered by the company.
“We have a lot of people that use our service to get to Toronto for medical appointments, and we also have a number of businesspeople that use our service to get to Toronto for business appointments,” explained Mike Ianiro, the owner-operator of Northern Airport Service.
But the twice-daily scheduled trips south, which deliver riders to the Toronto Pearson International Airport, aren’t always an exact fit with clients’ needs.
After being dropped off by Northern Airport Service, some still have to then take the express train or an airport limo to get to their final destination, Ianiro said. At times, if an appointment goes later than expected, the client can end up staying overnight in Toronto so they can catch the next scheduled ride back the following day.
But, reasoned Ianiro, many of his clients have perfectly good reliable vehicles sitting unused in their driveways at home. Some just don’t feel comfortable driving on the highway, while others prefer not to drive long distances.
The solution, he decided, was a personalized chauffeur service using the client’s own vehicle.
“If somebody needs to get to wherever they're going and has a vehicle, but wants the convenience of a private car service, but doesn't want to pay the limo rates, it's a good in-between fit,” Ianiro said. “They hire the driver, the driver takes them to where they're going, they use their vehicle, and because they're using their vehicle, they're comfortable in there; they have their stuff with them, and it just seems to work really well.”
The standard rate is $39 per hour — cheaper than taking a cab — but Ianiro said he and his drivers are happy to tailor the fee depending on a client’s circumstance.
“Sometimes, if you have a client that’s maybe going to Toronto and the driver’s going to be sitting there for four or five hours while they’re in a doctor’s appointment, we work around it to give the client the benefit of the rate,” he said.
It’s a new way of travel for many, but Ianiro is no stranger to change.
He started working for Northern Airport Service in 2006 in a management position. But when the business was bought out by a larger U.S. company, Ianiro lost his job.
“I really enjoyed what I was doing, so I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’ll go to city hall, register a business, and start competing,’” Ianiro said. “So that’s what I did.”
By 2010, Ianiro had bought back the licences and vehicles from Northern Airport Service, “and here I am,” Ianiro laughed. “I ended up buying my old job back.”
The service launched in September, and so far response has been all positive. Ianiro has nine drivers working for him, and while the new service hasn’t necessitated any new hires, his current drivers have been able to pick up more hours.
As for the clients who use the service, the biggest selling point with My Chauffeur seems to be the comfort that comes from being in their own vehicles while travelling a long distance, factors Ianiro hadn’t expected.
And being driven to a final destination offers a peace-of-mind that comes from not having to worry about missing a flight due to inclement weather or fluctuating schedules.
“Hiring a chauffeur and using your own car, you’re not bound by anybody’s schedule; you’re going when you want to go and you get there when you want to get there,” Ianiro said. “Instead of going through all that stress, they just book with us, because they know they’re going to get there.”