More Than a Ride
Island Taxi is integral part of San-Cap community
No wonder they’re considering writing a book called
Taxi Tales— about the quirky island characters and adventures they’ve encountered. Such as the time Tom Jones, the Indiana golfer turned president/coowner of Island Taxi, rescued the director of the Rauschenberg Foundation who was visiting from Manhattan.
“She’d called us because she wanted her bike put in the car to get past an 8-foot alligator in the middle of the road back to her rental in The Sanctuary,” says Jones. However, the bicycle didn’t fit in the car. “I said, can you drive? And, I rode her bike past the alligator while she drove my vehicle past it,” he adds. It just wasn’t her day; once they past the gator, she realized she didn’t have any money on her. “I said that’s OK. I don’t know what I would charge you. You drove our car 500 yards,” he recalls, with a chuckle.
Island Taxi, centrally located to service Captiva and Sanibel from Rabbit Road, across from J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, was created by Jones and Madeline Fischer to provide just that kind of personal care and concern for all passengers.
When Hurricane Irma was threatening a 6-foot storm surge in 2017, they not only drove their fleet of 15-passenger vans, Lincoln Town Cars and a limo to Southwest Florida International Airport, they also drove the vehicles of a number of snowbirds who weren’t yet down. “It was before a lot of our regular seasonal customers were on the island, so we helped them out. That’s what we’re all about—helping out the community,” explains Jones.
Beyond having regular seasonal and annual clients, including Fort Myers-based Shell Point residents who attend church on Sanibel, they also help out F.I.S.H. when volunteers aren’t available to take island residents to medical appointments, the grocery store or for haircuts. They give reduced rates to Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife interns, and provide shuttle service for Taste of the Islands and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation’s annual fundraiser.
Beyond that, they’re the real deal. They exude the old island charm—that laid-back, unpretentious and friendly way of early Sanibel and Captiva.
“Everyone is a VIP to us,” says Fischer, who is known for her round-the-clock hours as dispatcher, and also is co-owner/partner along with Ken Gill and Karen DeWitt. “Our favorite thing is helping people. That’s why our motto is ‘More Than a Ride.’ If you let us know ahead of time, we won’t charge you for your first 15 minutes of shopping at the grocery store on your ride from the airport. After that, it’s $10 for the next 15 minutes.”
Pet-friendly and family-friendly, their drivers will come with booster seats or car seats, and with complimentary bottled water from Bailey’s General Store.
“We’re also well known for our customized service for weddings. Starting from airport pickups, we’ll transport the wedding party and guests from the rehearsal dinner, to the wedding ceremony, to the reception site—all arranged ahead of time,” says Fischer. She emphasizes her love of advance planning: “Call or go to islandtaxi.com and fill out the form.”
Al Hanser, chairman of The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, has been on the islands for about 25 years. He’s known for his passionate devotion to community causes, including popping out of a cake at Island Nights at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers a couple of years ago. “I’ve been calling Madeline for 20 years—she’s a mainstay,” says Hanser.
“She knows my voice. I know her voice. I use them a lot—we use them for clients and I use them for family and friends. They’re really selective who they hire as drivers—all their drivers are really nice like them and very knowledgeable about the islands,” he adds.
In 2016, Fischer—who already had logged 13 years as a dispatcher on the island—convinced then-limo driver Jones to create Island Taxi. The plan was to deliver the kind of customer service she thought was lacking on the island.
“It’s great to see how well their company is doing. I encouraged them to break away and they’ve really made it work,” says Hanser. “And they’ve supported a number of charities around town along the way—which, as a big community supporter, I really appreciate when others also make the effort. They’ve become an integral part of the community.” Barbara Linstrom has been writing for
Times of the Islands since its premier issue in 1996. Having first visited Sanibel in 1976, she enjoys covering the evolution of the islands' communities.
Island Taxi co-owners Madeline Fischer and Tom Jones note that one of the many things their company is known for is “customized service for weddings.”
Island Taxi covers all transportation needs with its fleet of passenger vans, sedans and limo.