Free ride service coming to bay area
The Nickel Ride plans to start its first local venture in St. Petersburg in August.
As downtowns grow so do traffic and carbon emissions. The Nickel Ride, an eco-friendly service, is trying to change that and the next city on its rollout is St. Petersburg. This will be the service’s fourth city, after starting in Fort Myers in 2017.
ST. PETERSBURG — As downtowns like St. Petersburg’s burgeoning central city grow, so do traffic, carbon emissions and the amount of money spent on gas.
The Nickel Ride, a free, eco-friendly taxi service, is looking to change that, and the next city on its rollout is St. Petersburg, starting next month.
This will be the service’s fourth city, after getting its start in Fort Myers in 2017. Judah Longgrear, the company’s founder and CEO, said coming to St. Petersburg’s downtown is a “no-brainer” and he hopes to expand to other Tampa Bay metro areas soon.
The Nickel Ride gets its name from offering rides to five people at a time, taking them to their desired locations in most of a downtown area. It’s funded by partnerships with local businesses through advertising, Longgrear said.
“You can think of our vehicles as interactive billboards,” he said.
Each of eight electric vehicles that will be used in St. Petersburg will have television screens inside that will display advertisements, and drivers will pass out businesses’ swag and coupons to riders.
The Nickel Ride will hire 15 drivers who will work for tips, Longgrear said. The company will start posting job opportunities on its website, thenickleride.com, in the next week.
Users can hail a ride along a specified route or use the Nickel Ride’s mobile app, which will be up and running in time for the service’s local launch. The service will be available for locals and tourists, including people working downtown who want a ride to lunch and those who want to do safe bar-hopping late on weekend nights.
The Nickel Ride will operate within the Interstate 175/I-275/I-375 area to North Straub Park and south to the Dali Museum area.
Its proposed hours of operation are: Monday- Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday, noon to 6 p.m.
Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill will host a launch party at 6 p.m. Aug. 3 that will be open to the public, including potential Nickel Ride business partners.
“I think it will be a home run,” Longgrear said.