Michigan Man Starts “Amish Uber” Buggy Service

Timothy Hochstedler of St. Joseph County, Michigan has started what he calls an “Amish Uber” service, reports WWMT.

When I first heard of this, I thought it might be something an Amishman was doing as a service for other Amish in his community.

Rather it seems like it is appealing more to non-Amish – and may just be another name for a buggy ride business.

Hochstedler charges just $5 per ride, and you can see his hand-made sign stuck to his buggy advertising “Amish horse and buggy rides”. So it sounds like Timothy may be among other things a clever marketer.

The story gives the impression that most of the riders are English:

Inside his horse and buggy, people share a ride and Hochstedler gets to share some stories. Everyone’s happy.

“Uber is a cool thing, every single year something new comes in and Uber is hot right now, so we have the Amish Uber. We can deliver people to their front door steps,” Hochstedler said.

So far, people are loving it.

“First time Ubering and we’re riding in a buggy,” said Steve Phelps, an Amish Uber rider.

Bruce Jordan and his grandkids took a ride after traveling from Grand Rapids.

“It was fascinating. It’s not an activity you typically associate with the Amish,” Jordan said.

Most riders are not from Colon, the place where Timothy operates his service, but he says a few local residents have asked him for rides around town.

After viewing the video below I wondered if he is actually a member of the church or maybe just has Amish roots. Tim seems pretty flamboyant for an Amish person; you’ll notice an American flag pin on his hat as well as his surname emblazoned on the horse’s tack.

You’ll also see traces of facial hair on Timothy’s upper lip, though in some communities a few Amish do wear something like mustaches.

Colon is in the area of Centreville, the state’s largest settlement. And Hochstedler if you’re wondering is an alternate spelling of the more common “Hochstetler” surname found among the Amish.

So how to catch a ride? It’s simple, no app needed – just flag Timothy down.

CBS46 News

Amish using regular Uber

While we’re on the topic, one thing worth mentioning – some Amish use the actual Uber service. I heard about this last spring while visiting Lancaster County.

The Amishman who told me about it enthused about the convenience, especially compared to trying to book an Amish taxi, which you may have to do days in advance and then are locked in to a set time frame – quite the contrast with Uber’s near-instant convenience. I would guess the rates are better as well.

Granted this was a business-oriented Amishman in a more progressive district in Lancaster County, but with smartphones present in some segments of Amish society, it’s hardly surprising that some Amish are taking advantage of the handy transport app.

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    1. AJ

      It’s pretty similar to other buggy ride services around, but with one difference: he rides around looking for customers rather than operating a horse and buggy ride business from his barn. Not sure what the reason for the media attention is on this particular case. It’s hardly even an Uber service since he doesn’t use any app. It more like a traditional NY yellow taxi service where a potential customer seeking a taxi waves at it for a ride.

      I know Michigan churches are considered the most liberal of all Old Orders, but I still don’t think they would be using apps for horse and buggy rides. I wonder how that would work though. Buggies are slow so calling for a ride wouldn’t be something that would be practical or do. Horse and buggy rides are great, especially as an experience.

      1. It seems like a novelty experience for local English people or visitors to the area. I think you do point out the main difference, that you get a ride by flagging him down rather than going to a buggy ride business location. I wonder if Uber is going to raise any eyebrows at him using the name. I would think this would only be positive publicity for them. Over the past several days the story has been picked up by a lot of media outlets including internationally.

    2. Uber Driver

      I think it is wonderful, just as long as he has a warning triangle on the back of his buggy to warn vehicles of slow moving buggy. There has been to many buggy accidents. But Uber rides are got.

    3. Walter Boomsma

      Another example...

      This might be another example of how the Amish are disciplined in adapting or not adapting technology. I see the basic Uber concept in action here without the technology. Kinda creative, really. How great it would be to visit an area and flag down a buggy at $5 a pop. I would use it when we visit the Lancaster area. Unfortunately, it’s probably only a matter of time before Uber or some taxi service objects.

    4. This writer for the Guardian today also thinks it’s good marketing:


      “Regardless of whether the new venture is a prank or not (and it really could be) I still say: good for him. Premeditated or not, Hochstedler has stumbled on a marketing tactic that always has a decent chance of succeeding: just come up with a product or service that’s comparable to another well-known brand, create a similar name (be careful!) and hope people either confuse your product for the real thing or are so amused by your ingenuity that they buy from you anyway.”