When one thinks of Amish transportation, most draw up an image of horse-drawn carriages. While true, the Amish have also accepted the necessity of modern transportation. When they need to travel further than they can conveniently travel via buggy or bike, an “Amish Taxi” is one possible solution.
What is an Amish Taxi?
Amish Taxis allow Amish Community members to travel distances. This includes commuting to work, shopping trips, medical emergencies, or even visiting other Amish communities for events like weddings and funerals.
The name Amish “Taxi” is a bit misleading as the vehicles that service the Amish community look more like shuttles than the yellow cab style taxis seen throughout the world, and they behave more like limos or black cars than rideshares.
When an Amish passenger needs a ride, they make their way to a “phone shanty” to call for service. (Think of the phone shanty as a payphone for farming communities.) Usually, rides are reserved in advance with a predefined pick-up and drop-off destination. Of course, if there’s a medical emergency, the driver has discretion.
How Do I Become an Amish Taxi Driver?
Becoming an Amish Taxi driver requires more than a car and desire. Anytime you transport people for hire, there are laws and regulations to be followed.
In Lancaster County, for example, you must be licensed to be an Amish driver. The county frequently monitors for those out of compliance, and fines can be as hefty as $1000.
The requirements for Amish hauling are as follows:
- Acquire and hold a $350 paratransit certification
- Drive a vehicle that is less than 8 years old
- Obtain commercial liability insurance
- If you plan to transport more than 8 passengers, you may need a medical examiner’s certificate
- Pay an annual fee based on your reported gross operating revenue
- Display your Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission or U.S. Department of Transportation license number on your taxi
Of course, taking the appropriate steps to license and insure your vehicle doesn’t guarantee business, you will also need to find customers.
Marketing your new business will take creativity as SEO and social media ads aren’t going to cut it. Typically, your Amish Taxi business will come via word-of-mouth referrals, but you will need to be prepared to do some feet-on-the-street marketing to get your foot in the door. Namely, leaving ads in places the Amish frequent. If you are reliable, professional, and respectful, your business should flourish.
Tell Me More About Amish Taxi Insurance
As mentioned above, personal car insurance won’t cut it. You will need a commercial auto insurance policy.
Insurance requirements for livery businesses are contingent upon the state you operate in and the number of passengers you want to transport. Let’s take a look at Pennsylvania as an example.
For drivers in Pennsylvania, the state minimum will depend on the number of passengers (including the driver) you plan to haul. The list below represents current state minimums at the time of writing.
15 Passengers or Less:
- $35,000 to cover liability for bodily
injury, death or property damage
incurred in an accident (BIPD).
- $25,000 first-party medical benefits,
$10,000 first party wage loss benefits,
and conforming to 75 PA C.S. §§ 1701 –
1798 (relating to Motor Vehicle Financial
- First party coverage of the driver of
certificated vehicles shall meet the
requirements of 75 PA C.S. § 1711
(relating to required benefits).
16 to 28 Passengers:
$1,000,000 to cover liability for bodily injury,
death or property damage incurred in an
29 Passengers or More:
$5,000,000 to cover liability for bodily injury,
death or property damage incurred in an
At LAP RRG, we also suggest adding full coverage in most situations but full coverage is not required by the state. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission’s (PUC’s) Bureau of Transportation & Safety requires all carriers to provide evidence of bodily injury and property damage insurance only.
As an estimate, I’ll say that commercial car insurance will run around $1,700 per year.
How Much Does an Amish Taxi Cost and How Much Will I Make?
What an Amish Taxi driver charges will depend on several factors. In general, the cost is about $1.00 per mile with Lancaster Online adding that there is an additional $7 to $12 charge per hour for any waiting time. For example, if you drive your passengers to a shopping center that is 15 miles away and wait two hours while they shop, you would earn around $40.
If you are driving your passengers to a location where they plan to stay overnight, it’s possible that they will either pay for your overnight accommodations or pay your round trip fair twice. For example, if they are planning to stay four nights at a location 100 miles away, it might make more sense for them to pay you to travel the roundtrip twice versus paying for a hotel for four nights. In this case, the total fare would be $400.
AmishAmerica.com’s Amanda reports that her dad “drives roughly 80,000 miles/year, and his taxable income last year was $33,000. His gross income per month runs around $5,000, or $70,000 a year.”
In short, driving an Amish Taxi isn’t going to make you rich but it can be a rewarding and unique experience that’s exclusive to those who live near the Amish.