Free ride ser­vice com­ing to bay area

The Nickel Ride plans to start its first lo­cal ven­ture in St. Peters­burg in Au­gust.

Tampa Bay Times - - Front Page - BY HAN­NAH DENHAM Times Staff Writer Con­tact Han­nah Denham at hden­ham@tam­ Fol­low @han­nah_­den­ham1.

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, thenick­, 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.

Nickel Ride

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