SEASIDE — Call a taxi in South County and likely Aalpha Shuttle and Taxi will answer.
Meet Jennifer Thornburg, part-time driver, co-owner and a voice for the thriving taxi service. The Thornburgs bought Arrow Shuttle about a year ago.
“My husband is the owner, I’m the helper,” Thornburg said between pickups. “We live at the junction and my in-laws Bill and Patricia Love help run the business too.”
Ray Thornburg, “a jack-of-many trades,” according to his wife, was working for a geologic consultant but lost his job during a downturn.
He found work with Dwayne Smith of Dwayne’s Shuttle, intending to work for a summer. He ended up buying the business in 2014.
The Thornburgs subsequently acquired Arrow Taxi and Seaside Cab, merging the companies into Aalpha.
Thornburg never thought she’d be in the taxi business. “No. Never,” she laughed. “I’m a dental assistant and I was working in Astoria for many years.”
Aalpha has nine part- and full-time drivers, available 24/7.
“We’ve had to weed out a few over the years, but my husband is pretty good at detecting if something is not working out,” she said.
The Thornburgs’ three children, Ray, Lila and Kiana, attend Seaside schools.
As full as their schedule is, Jennifer Thornburg still manages to fill in as needed, either in the phone dispatch rotation or as a driver.
She loves the tourists: “They’re super-fun to deal with.”
People come from all over the place, she said, with a lot of visitors from British Columbia, along with “a lot of hikers, bikers and campers.”
Favorite destinations are Indian Head Beach and Tillamook Head. “It’s on the to-do lists. Either drop off or pick up. In the summer it’s kind of crazy because the road to get up through Ecola State Park is just busy. You know the summers here are crazy!”
Part of their mission is to give back to the community, with special fares for the elderly and $2 rides to area food banks.
The Thornburgs team with Providence Seaside Hospital and Project Access NOW, the nonprofit service connecting uninsured patients with medical care.
“The police department works directly with us for whatever they need. We’re here to service our community and be ambassadors. It’s really important to do good for the community.”