- The Washington Times - Monday, December 30, 2002

DAYTON, Va. (AP) Charles Cassiday said he thought he was performing a good deed by driving Old Order Mennonites to doctors' appointments or to Wal-Mart.
Many Old Order Mennonites, like the better-known Amish sect, refuse to use modern innovations like cars, instead traveling by horse and buggy. Mr. Cassiday, 71, said he believed his informal taxi service was a safer alternative.
Officials at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles said they wouldn't mind if the Dayton man offered neighbors rides free of charge, but they had a problem with his accepting donations for each ride.
The amount depends on how much riders think the trip is worth and the distance traveled. A ride around town usually pays $20.
If Mr. Cassiday wants to continue receiving compensation for his services, he will have to apply to the DMV for a license and proper tags, and buy appropriate insurance for his truck and six-passenger van.
That is something Mr. Cassiday may not be willing to do.
"I don't mind getting a permit, and I want to do what's right," he said. "But if I can't make a good profit, I'm not going to go all out."
As for the required insurance and license plates, Mr. Cassiday said, he "was under the impression if you didn't charge, you didn't have to have for-hire tags."
Mr. Cassiday uses his 1996 Dodge van and 1993 Chevy pickup truck to taxi Mennonites around the central Shenandoah Valley. But like other unlicensed taxi drivers transporting Mennonites in the valley, Mr. Cassiday had the wrong impression.
Accepting donations in return for transportation, without the proper insurance and tags, is illegal. Mr. Cassiday said a special agent from the DMV motor carrier division has told him that.
Mr. Cassiday is one of a dozen people who have been investigated by DMV officials in the past three weeks on charges of providing unlicensed taxi services. He says he knows of at least eight others providing taxi services for Mennonites in Dayton, Harrisonburg and Bridgewater.
The DMV will fine those who do not comply with regulations.
With almost 400 Old Order Mennonite families living in Rockingham County, the taxi business struck Mr. Cassiday as a safe and lucrative industry.
"It's better than having a horse and buggy on the road, instead of them getting run over and killed," Mr. Cassiday said. "I thought we were doing a good job."

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