Your airport shuttle has just let you off at the “park and ride” station, and it’s 11:30 at night. As the shuttle leaves, having other stops to make, you realize it is dark and cold, with a raw wind blowing the icy snow all around. Your pickup ride is late. You begin to wonder if, with weather conditions so bad, they would come at all. You try not to panic and think, “Why and how did I ever get into this mess?”
That scenario happened to Amy Muhlbaier. Only she was the airport shuttle driver and had to go off and leave the person alone at the park and ride. This and other such problems began to plague her mind. She told her husband, Barry, “There must be an answer to this.”
“It’s not right to have to leave people stranded. I would like to be able to offer people another alternative,” she says.
This became the brainchild that gave birth to the couple’s business, A & B Specialized Transport, which gives customers door to door airport shuttle service. Nothing to worry about, customers just leave all the fuss to them. If a person’s flight back is late because of weather, A & B will be found waiting outside the airport. They have a special number to call about all flights, and they are there for their customers all the time.
Amy, who was born and raised in Burley, and Barry, from New Jersey, live outside Home. This time last year they were wondering how this idea would play out. They had just finished getting all the permits, were done with all the court appointments, and they had drivers: Amy and her mom. Barry, who had been a truck driver with 2 million miles under his belt and had driven in nearly every state, would have been the ideal driver, but he had had a recent accident, resulting in surgeries for both shoulders and knees. So Amy became the breadwinner, and Barry was a stay at home dad to their five children.
They have two vans. One seats eight and the other 15, so they can take weekly commuters, which has become a stable backbone for their business. In addition to regular vacationers, there are groups going out for special trips and cruises.
The Muhlbaiers serve all of Gig Harbor from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and from the Key Peninsula, Port Orchard, to Gorst. Barry says, “We go from the Mason County line to the water.” They are hoping to expand the service area to include Bremerton, Silverdale and Belfair.
The first year has been fairly successful, with a few handicaps — like getting the advertising out that “there is such a service even offered,” and of course, the soaring gas prices. Future plans are to get another driver so Amy can be home more. She is having “Missing the Kids Syndrome” and Daddy, once he recovers, wants more time to work on the new home they are building to accommodate the family of seven.
Asked if the shuttle is more expensive, the couple answered, “Yes and no.” Yes, right up front it is. But customers don’t have to leave their cars at the airport or parking lot, where they pay out good money and might have their car stolen or gas tank emptied; they don’t come out of the airport and find that the shuttle has already left and they have to wait for another hour or more; and they are not left stranded at a lonely place waiting for a ride at the mercy of the weather. Once those expenses are added up versus safety, peace of mind and convenience, there really isn’t any comparison.
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