By John Burton |
RED BANK – Borough Councilman Michael Whelan sees a way to offer modest relief from traffic congestion and offer visitors a ride around the downtown.
He wants the Scooter Dudes to handle it.
Whelan said he’s been in talks with the operators of the newly formed company, Scooter Dudes, to allow them to operate in the borough’s downtown area for a proposed 90-day trial period.
The company would use its small, jitney- style vehicle (think a larger version of a golf cart), that can hold up to six passengers, to transport people around to various stops in the commercial and arts district.
“It’s kind of a modern, cool idea,” Whelan said.
The thought is people could use some of the available valet parking in the district or other remote parking locations and then take this cart to be chauffeured from a restaurant to, say, the Two River Theater or the Count Basie Theatre to catch a performance. Or the reverse, allowing people to travel from the theaters or other entertainment venues for a nightcap or dessert, without worrying about having to again jump into the car to try to get a highly sought-after parking space closer to the destination.
“It’s a fun way to experience the downtown,” Whelan said.
Marc Feaster, a Shrewsbury resident, is co- owner of Scooter Dudes, which has taken ownership of two vehicles in the last couple of weeks. This spring, Feaster and his family traveled to Oxford, Mississippi, for his daughter’s college graduation. “And we happened to jump into one.” The cart played music while it took the family around “and we thought it was really cool,” Feaster said.
He and a business partner saw an opportunity and “we thought it would be kind of a fun thing.”
“They’re cute and fun little vehicles and I think it’ll really help,” the downtown, said James Scavone, executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter, the management and advocacy organization for the commercial Special Improvement District.
Whelan will be offering a resolution at the next Borough Council meeting on Sept. 13 seeking support to allow for a trial period for the service. This can be done at no cost to the borough. “He’s buying them, insuring them, he’s providing all the workers,” Whelan said of Feaster’s efforts. “We’re not doing anything other than allowing him to operate.”
Scooter Dudes would operate initially during peak hours, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons.
During the trial period, Feaster doesn’t plan on charging riders; he hopes to underwrite the operation through advertising by local businesses on the LED board on the vehicles and inside on customized digital tablets.
If the program continues, “At some point the patrons will have to pay something,” Feaster said. And while the price hasn’t been determined, “It’ll be less expensive than an Uber,” he added.
Scavone, Whelan and other borough officials are currently working on establishing a proposed route for the vehicles and “working out the kinks,” Whelan said. And should it be approved by the governing body, Feaster hopes to have it up and running by late September.
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