The Taos Traveler fills niche for transportation

By Doug Cantwell
Posted 9/19/19

"I offer more than just a ride," said Maggie Gurley, founder and driver of The Taos Traveler. "I launched this business to provide safe, personalized, …

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The Taos Traveler fills niche for transportation


"I offer more than just a ride," said Maggie Gurley, founder and driver of The Taos Traveler. "I launched this business to provide safe, personalized, professional travel experiences with the Taos touch."

What exactly is the "Taos touch"? "This community is known for its relaxed, organic, welcoming and eclectic culture," Gurley said. "My business model mirrors that culture."

She cites, for example, her many clients who need transportation to medical appointments in Santa Fe or Albuquerque. "If they require special assistance or need to make a bathroom stop or pick up prescriptions, I cater to those kinds of needs."

Gurley notes that most of her clients are women. "As women, we all know that feeling of uncertainty when we get into a cab or Uber with a man we've never seen before. In the world today, a lot of women don't feel very safe. When they get into my car [a 2019 Subaru Outback], they're so appreciative to see a female driver. But I'm finding that a lot of men prefer a woman driver as well."

Her clients like the personal touch, and they like the privacy - as opposed to riding in a van or bus with 15 other people. "A lot of them don't want to make conversation, they're tired, they've been traveling for weeks and they're anxious to get home," Gurley said. "Or a lot of people get into the back of my car and work. It's a very clean, private environment that supports whatever they need."

Gurley's rates are not bargain-basement by any means, but then you're paying for a totally private and customizable experience. If you needed to go to Presbyterian Medical Center in Santa Fe for a two-hour appointment, your bill would be $140 round trip plus $34 for the $17 per hour wait fee. If you and three friends wanted to attend a concert in Albuquerque, the group rate would be $140 per person plus $51 for the three-hour wait fee.

You don't have to go to Santa Fe or beyond, however. Gurley often serves clients who simply need to drop their car at Metric Motors for service. Her in-town rate is $20 per person for 10 miles or less. She often drives customers who are staying at the Taos Inn, El Monte Sagrado or the Hotel Don Fernando.

"I can run 24/7. I can move on a dime. I can also give tours," she said. "I just had a call from two clients flying into Santa Fe, one from New York, the other from Ohio. They want me to drive down, bring them back up here, give them a full tour, take them to dinner and then return them to their hotel in Santa Fe."

The Taos Traveler has not yet faced its first ski season, but Gurley is prepared. She just ordered an extralong Thule rooftop carrier, which will allow her to transport up to four passengers plus their luggage, skis and snowboards.

When she returned to Taos earlier this year after five years working for Marin County, California, Gurley looked around for a niche that needed filling. "I knew there were a number of transportation options here, but they weren't all-inclusive. I wanted to craft a service that would complement the others, that would build upon what was already here. My goal was to provide a transportation experience for each client that was individualized and tailored to their needs."

Gurley had noted the glaring absence of those trending ride services that have largely supplanted taxis in urban and suburban areas. "Uber and Lyft don't work in Taos," she said. "You have to drive 15 miles to pick up a client, who then wants to go two miles, so you end up making $2.34."

Gurley has deep marketing background, which has given her an edge in launching a business. She's done the "boots-on-the-ground" work, as she calls it, placing business card holders at hotels and restaurants around town and in Santa Fe. She's given a lot of attention to the details of what clients want in a transportation experience.

"What I bring to the table is 40 years of corporate and retail experience," Gurley said. "My customer service skills are impeccable. I'm extremely reliable, very professional, and I love people. I love my community here, and my business model is wrapped around it - and around making a contribution to it."

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