City company offers commuters way to cut gas costs

By Steven R. Maher

[Editor’s Note: This story was submitted in May 2008 and not published for space reasons.]

Fuel costs are skyrocketing. Motorists are paying $40 to $50 to fill up their cars at the gas pump. Worcester Airport Limousines is offering some travelers a more affordable and convenient alternative mode of transportation. Whether you’re going to Logan Airport or a Red Sox game, there is money to be saved.

Hates Boston traffic
This writer was asked to go on a business trip to Bangor Maine. The plan was to fly out of Logan Airport at 10:15 AM, visit a company facility, and then fly home from Bangor on the 5:00 PM flight.

This writer truly dislikes navigating the Boston traffic. Equally detested was leaving the car in airport parking garages, where bad things sometimes happen. A co-worker had mentioned catching a shuttle on a business trip. So your humble writer decided to see if there was much of a cost difference between taking a shuttle and driving oneself.

Being an accountant, your scribe started out crunching some numbers. Adding up the company mileage reimbursement rate, parking fees, and tolls, the cost of driving oneself was about $100.
In the time-honored tradition of consumers everywhere, the author next turned to the phone book yellow pages for information about shuttle services. Using a more modern approach, your correspondent only selected those shuttle services that had their web sites in the yellow pages advertisement, and then went online.

Three or four companies served the immediate Worcester area. Their web sites had calculators in which one could calculate the cost of a commute. The winner was Worcester Airport Limousines, whose web site is www.wlimo.com. When I factored in the 5% discount for booking over the Internet and 5% discount for being a Triple A member, the cost of the round trip ride was $100.10. Passage was immediately booked.

Superb service
Airports suggest you arrive two hours prior to a flight, so that you have plenty of time to check in, go through security, and process your luggage. Worcester Airport Limousines sent an email saying the van would be at my house in Auburn at 6:50 AM. They actually got there ten minutes early.

The ride to Logan was quick and efficient. An hour after we left Auburn the van pulled up at the Delta terminal where my plane was to depart from. So far, so good. It was the ride home that got scary.

The plane from Bangor to Boston departed an hour and a half late. Your writer began wondering anxiously if there would be a van to drive him home, so he called Worcester Airport Limousines’ tool free line. “We have service from Logan to Worcester as late as 11:30 PM,” said the woman in a very reassuring voice. “Just call us again when you get to Logan.”

The plane arrived at Logan at 7:30 PM. After getting his luggage, your author went outside to a pay phone and called Worcester Airport Limousines. Five minutes later the van pulled up.

Small groups
Astounded, I asked the driver how the company could time their arrival so well. “We monitor incoming flights of our customers on a computer in Worcester,” he said. “We know when a flight is going to be late. We try to time it so the van will arrive when you do.”

Looking around the van, the writer noticed he was the only passenger. Being Irish Catholic, the writer expressed guilt.

“You shouldn’t feel guilty at all,” responded the driver. “All our earlier trips from Boston to Worcester were filled to capacity. Sometimes you only get one customer. Every customer is important to us. It all evens out.”
Intrigued, the driver was asked how business was.

“We’re growing,” he responded. “People aren’t going on vacations as much as they used to. But it’s more than being made up for by the businessmen. Business travelers see the cost savings of being driven to Logan or T.F. Green, rather than paying to leave their car in a garage for a week. With gas near $4.00 a gallon, it’s cheaper to take our shuttle.”

The driver then explained how small groups save money using his company’s services. “We have some people who call us up to go to Red Sox games,” he said. “If you got seven or eight people going to meet at a game, with parking costing $50 or $60 a car, and the price of gas, they save a lot of money and hassles. We pick up seven or eight of them, drop them off at the front gate before the game, and pick them up at the front gate when the game’s over.

“It works as well for weddings,” continued the driver. “If you have eight people staying at a hotel in an unfamiliar city, it’s a lot easier to have the van pick them up for the wedding and drop them off after the reception. We also do a lot of work during the prom season.”

So Worcester residents have alternatives to expensive, nerve-wracking drives to Boston. One of them is Worcester Airport Limousines, a well run and efficient operation staffed by enthusiastic employees.