More than half the potential drivers have been identified and ad sales are well under way as Gulfport’s new GetGO ride service approaches its debut later this month, say organizers.
“Golf carts are in Florida getting all finishing touches,” Donald Banno, who is in charge of hiring the drivers, said via email on Monday, January 2. While there is still no exact date of delivery, he said the manufacturer has committed to the middle of this month.
The non-profit program will transport seniors and others within Gulfport’s city limits free of charge. The two six-passenger Electro Bubble Buddy shuttles purchased from Moto Electric Vehicles in Atlantic Beach, Fl., will be driven by volunteers at the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center Foundation, which is running the GetGO.
The program aims to generate more customers for downtown businesses while easing traffic congestion and parking shortages. It will also generate a stream of income for other Senior Center programs via the sale of ads displayed on the vehicles.
Service is expected to be available seven days a week from the morning until restaurant-closing time.
Banno said that as of Monday he had applications from nine prospective drivers and was submitting their names to the insurance company for background checks.
“To cover the operation hours I will need 14 drivers,” he said.
Volunteers will work part-time for tips; a paid employee working out of the Senior Center will take calls and dispatch the drivers.
One of those who has applied to drive is Allen “Roy” Long, a 13-year resident of Gulfport and co-owner of Accounting Results Inc., a registered tax-preparation office.
Long said he’s very excited about the program and the prospect of driving the GetGO. He’s looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know different parts of town.
“It’s an awesome service,” he said. “I’m all for it. That’s why I jumped into it right away.”
Bob Newcomb, who is handling advertising on the GetGO, said sales have been going well.
“The large rear panel on both vehicles are under contract as are the front box panels and one rear box panel,” he said via email. “Most of the contracts are for 12 months with payments every three months.” Some ad locations are available on a monthly basis while others are being sold for a minimum of three months.
Newcomb says advertisers will also be able to hand out promotions to riders for up to five days a month at no additional charge.
“While the vehicles will be running as soon as insurances and registration are in place, sign work will be added when complete,” he said.
There will be a formal ribbon cutting at the start of the program, but the date has not been set.