By Natalie B. Anzarouth |
RED BANK – The first time Judy and Bill Fraser saw the Scooter Dudes open-air vehicles buzzing around town this summer, they thought it looked like fun.
They flagged down Tom Anderson, a Scooter Dude driver, on the corner of Broad and White streets and jumped on board.
“We walk in Red Bank all the time. But I said to Bill, let’s do it. Let’s take this right now,” Judy said. The Frasers said they liked the music played during the ride, the reaction from pedestrians and the banter with the driver, who pointed out different shops and hot spots along the way.
The Scooter Dudes transport service was started by Marc Feaster, a resident of Shrewsbury, who got the idea after he visited the University of Mississippi in 2017. He saw students being transported around campus on vehicles that looked like mini-shuttles.
“Kids were using them instead of Uber because they could fit six people. It seemed like a cool idea,” he said.
Knowing that scarcity of parking in Red Bank has been an issue, Feaster wondered if there might be an opportunity to offer a service. But when Feaster returned home, he couldn’t remember the name of the company. He asked his kids. One jokingly said, “I don’t know. The Scooter Dudes.” Feaster knew he had a name people could remember.
The vehicles, which operate on 100 per- cent electricity, are technically called eTuks and are street legal. They have three wheels and can seat up to six passengers. They’re equipped with seatbelts, wireless Bluetooth speakers where customers can choose to play their own music, vinyl wrap closures for rain or colder weather, and even heated seats. The eTuks have a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour and are summoned by a user’s text message.
Feaster purchased two limo models and started his first route in Red Bank, turning heads as he hit the major entertainment venues and gathering spots in the downtown.
Then he expanded to Asbury Park. “They have the same issues. There’s nowhere to park.” The Asbury Park Jitney Route operates Thursday through Saturday, from 6 p.m. to midnight, with a more extensive schedule in the summertime. Fares are a flat rate of $2.50 per person in Red Bank and $3 per person in Asbury Park. Children under 10 are free. Scooter Dudes currently employs eight part-time drivers.
A Highlands service is next, said Feaster, who is confident the business can grow. “It’s kind of a breakeven thing right now,” he said. With less comfortable weather coming, “I think it will continue to pick up. We’re expecting it to be really busy again,” he said. To supplement revenue, Feaster also sells advertising spots on LED panels on the back of the vehicle. “It’s really, really cool looking,” he noted.
While the company primarily operates through text messages to a dispatcher, a mobile app is in the works for release in mid-October. But there’s something to be said about the old-fashioned point-of-sale model. Just ask Diendre and Fred Levine of Holmdel, who tried to get an Uber to pick them up from the Galleria complex in Red Bank, but found they didn’t have phone service. When they saw the Scooter Dudes drive up, they jumped at the opportunity to take a ride to Catch 19 restaurant on Broad Street.
The Levines have moved here from New York City, where alternative transportation such as Citi Bikes have become the norm. “I felt like I was back in Manhattan for a second,” Diendre said, adding she would use the service again. “It was direct, easy and it was perfect timing,” she said.
In addition to serving the borough, Scooter Dudes also provides wedding parties with on-site transportation for venues that require long distances between halls, as well as brewery tours. Brewery tours run from $50-$60 per person, and include samplings and education from the brew master specific to that tour, and can be found online at scootdudes.com.
This article was first published in the Sept. 27-Oct. 3, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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