You may have heard that in life there are no free rides. Forget about that. Along Fort Lauderdale Beach and in a growing number of South Florida cities, you really can ride for free. Yes, you will have to forego air conditioning, the ride won’t last more than five or 10 minutes, and you won’t exceed 35 mph. But you can take comfort in knowing you are helping to reduce fossil fuel emissions.
Partnering with local governments and private advertisers, several companies are building fleets of low-speed street-legal six-seat electric shuttles to ferry the permanently or temporarily car-less over short distances within congested urban zones.
Pedestrians in busy sections of Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and West Palm Beach can use smartphone apps to summon rides from two growing services: Freebee, in the middle of a pilot program in a square-mile section of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and Circuit (formerly The Free Ride), which serves Fort Lauderdale’s beachfront resort area and last week began shuttling tourists and commuters in the core area of Hollywood.
As South Florida developers have no choice but to turn away from sprawl and focus instead on building high-rise, mixed-use, “live-work-play” communities, founders of the eco-friendly electric fleets say that — by providing access to train and bus stations — they’re helping residents realize the dream of living without a car.
Circuit was founded in The Hamptons, a string of seaside resort communities on Long Island, New York, in 2011 when co-founders Alexander Esposito and James Mirras discovered that consumer product brands would fund the entire cost of operation for the opportunity to advertise to the area’s affluent residents. The company then replicated the concept on the Jersey Shore; in Austin, Texas; and in such popular California beach communities as Santa Monica, Long Beach, Venice, San Diego and Marina del Ray, among other destinations.
The city wanted a service that would be free to riders, said Joanne Hussey. the city’s communications manager.
“Riders can use their app to ask them to come and get them. We really liked that. They didn’t have to go to a trolley stop and wait. We had feedback from people saying, ‘When I go to the trolley stop, I don’t know when it’s going to be there.' We also liked that this uses electric vehicles." That fit in the city’s goal to be as “green” as possible, she added.
Users in Hollywood can hail rides by downloading a smartphone app called Ride Circuit, or, if they see one of the vehicles approaching, simply hail it as one would hail a cab, Hussey said. The city is calling its service Sun Shuttle. Circuit operates in Hollywood from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Ride Circuit APP will be available in the Fort Lauderdale market late summer 2019. Those needing to catch a ride can do so daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m by simply sending a text to (954) 603-4500 approximately 10-15 minutes before the desired pick up time. You can also hop on or wave a ride down on Circuit along Las Olas Boulevard in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, at the Brightline Station, within Victoria Park, on Sunrise Boulevard east near the Galleria Mall and all up and down Fort Lauderdale Beach.