Tue09022014

Travel

They had me at hello: RedCap service offers private drivers

He showed up at my door at the appointed hour, carrying a Starbucks tray with a large dark-roast coffee, my favorite. Several Equal and sugar packets spilled out of the cup holder.

“I didn’t know if you liked nonfat or low-fat, so I brought both,” he said eagerly.

He had already sent me a text message saying that he would arrive soon. With that cardinal-red cap on his head, he was hard to miss. I looked around to see if any neighbors saw him. It was early, 7:20 a.m., and I had to catch a 10 a.m. flight from SFO.

John Roy, my RedCap private transportation service driver, escorted me to my Toyota Rav-4. I wondered if I should sit in the front seat, in egalitarian fashion, or in the back, as if he were driving Miss Daisy. Luckily, he spared me that decision by opening the back door for me like a perfect gentleman.

How did I get so lucky?

My April 23 column on my taxi getting a flat at 5 a.m., right near the San Jose Airport, elicited a response from Katie Gerber, eagle-eyed public relations expert for 451 Marketing, who suggested that I take a spin with one of her client’s drivers.

She made it sound downright magical.

“So in your case, the night before your trip – as you were getting in those last few snuggles with your cat – you could have easily booked a driver to show up at your home at 4:45 a.m. (he could have even brought you a fresh cup of coffee – at no extra charge), ready to drive you to SJC, incident free. After dropping you at your terminal, he could stop by the pet store en route to your home to pick up the cat kibble you didn’t have a chance to get the day prior (again, at no extra charge) and fill up your car with gas, all before returning your vehicle to your home and sliding the keys in your mail slot.”

She had me at hello.

I signed on with RedCap the night before my next flight. RedCap, a service that provides personal drivers to drive your vehicle, launched Bay Area operations in the spring. To get on board, download the free app from the iTunes store and fill out the forms.

Roy also drives business development for the company’s southern Peninsula region.

As for his driving, Roy kept to the speed limit and seemed steady and reliable. A Boston native, he attends car clinics at his BMW car club. My gnawing question: How did he get to my house? He said he parked his vehicle on my street.

Gerber reports that clients’ cars are covered under their own insurance and that drivers are vetted carefully. The app will quote you a price for the trip, and you can upgrade to a premium paid account that gives users discounts, priority access on holidays and the ability to maintain a preferred driver list.

RedCap CEO David Zwick said the service is ideal for people who have a drink or two and don’t want to drive home. He added that the luxury service is “democratizing the personal driver in suburban areas.” The competition includes Uber and Lyft, which cater to those without cars in urban areas.

Contributing editor Eren Göknar is a lifelong traveler. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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