‘Micro-Mobility’: The Future is Now

From left, Freebee Director of Economic Development John Janusz (inside car), Freebee co-founder Jason Spiegl, The Don CeSar’s Director of Sales and Marketing Todd Gehrke, St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson, Freebee driver Richard Kitson, and Freebee Operation Manager Christopher Walker welcome the micro-mobility partnership shuttle service Freebee on the Beach, St. Pete Beach Edition. St. Pete Beach revealed their “fun, free, and on-demand” two electric-vehicle fleet Thursday afternoon, January 23.

Early Thursday afternoon, January 23, St. Pete Beach held their official reveal of a two-electric-vehicle fleet of a “fun, free, and on-demand” shuttle service, called “Freebee on the Beach.”

Freebee on the Beach is St. Pete Beach’s leap into the world of “micro-mobility.” According to the American Library Association, “micro-mobility is a broad term for a growing category of transportation vehicles that provide an alternative to traditional transportation (cars, trains, buses) in cities and communities.”

Freebee on the Beach has been fine-tuning their business model over the last eight years, launching in Miami’s South Beach back in 2012, explained Freebee’s Director of Economic Development John Janusz. They currently have 90 vehicles under their title, all electric, but customized for the area they service. 

The service initially launched on St. Pete Beach on December 16. Since then daily ridership has increased from 30 passengers to over 100 daily riders. 

Residents seem to enjoy the service, according to Chris Core, Pass-a-Grille resident. “Well, not just I, but everybody I know in Pass-a-Grille loves Freebee. It’s better service, it’s friendly, it’s fun and it doesn’t pollute. It’s a quiet form of transportation that gives us better service than what we had with the big busses at a cheaper cost,” said Core. “It’s a lot more of the spirit of the area. They make me smile every time I look at them.”

According to Core, the buses provided prior to Freebee by Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) were underutilized and a nuisance to the streets and environment of St. Pete Beach.  

“They were so loud and then would just sit and idle by the water for long periods of time because they didn’t have any riders,” said Core. “Those large buses damaged the roads the city spent so much money to repair and were a safety hazard to bicyclists too.” 

As of December 16, 2019, PSTA busses no longer travel south of The Don CeSar hotel at the entrance to  Pass-a-Grille. 

St. Pete Beach’s Freebee vehicles resemble 6- to 10-passenger golf carts. One is ADA accessible. To utilize this service, patrons need to download the Freebee application onto their cellular phones. The app has a beehive-type design and is easily navigable. 

The “fun, free, and on-demand” shuttle service runs within pre-designated boundaries of St. Pete Beach and takes its customers door-to-door, Monday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The service is 100% funded by marketing campaigns and drivers are strictly encouraged to decline gratuities. If ADA assistance is required, patrons are encouraged to contact the driver via the telephone number provided in the app. 

More information can be found at ridefreebee.com or via the “Freebee” app.

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