Beach Buggies offer free rides in San Marco

Beach Buggies offer free rides in San Marco
Beachside Buggies Co-owner Billy Chenoweth stops to pick up passengers in front of Southern Grounds Coffee House June 15.

If you live in San Marco, it is now possible to make your way anywhere from River Oaks Road to the Southbank without taking your car out of your garage.

Beach Buggies–San Marco, an offshoot of Beachside Buggies, the transportation company that provides free rides throughout the Jacksonville beaches, has arrived.

The service officially started up June 14 and is sponsored by several local hotels and some members of the San Marco Merchants Association. 

The baby-blue buggies that were initially used in San Marco were ones that normally ferry passengers at the beach, said Billy Chenoweth, co-owner of Beachside Buggies. By the end of June brand-new, 10-seat passenger vans will be on the ground servicing San Marco, he said, noting that there was a delay in their being shipped from Japan.

“Business is picking up quickly,” Chenoweth said on June 15 as he sat behind the wheel of one of two vans that ferry residents and tourists around San Marco Square and the Southbank. 

Nina Cliff exits the Beach Buggy van after taking a trip from 1st Place Sports to Southern Grounds Coffee House June 15.
Nina Cliff exits the Beach Buggy van after taking a trip from 1st Place Sports to Southern Grounds Coffee House June 15.

“Today is our first Saturday. We expect a lot of riders today. The hotels are starting to get on board by send us a lot of riders and a lot of people off River Oaks Road are using us, which is good, and right at the border of our cutoff area. So far, our ridership is about half and half – half residents and half tourists,” he added, noting that things get busy on the Southbank around 5 p.m. when residents at The Strand, The Peninsula and San Marco Place decide to go to dinner.

Residents and visitors to San Marco can call for a free ride by installing an app called Beachside Buggies on their smartphones. When loaded, the app will display a map of San Marco and the rider’s precise location if they are within its boundaries. The transit company offers its shuttle service through San Marco Square and the Southbank as far south as River Oaks Road, as far east as Kings Avenue, and as far west as the river. All of the Southbank is covered by its service.

All rides are free, but tips for the drivers are greatly appreciated. 

The service is offered Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight.

“This is fun, and it’s very convenient,” said Nina Cliff, who was shopping in San Marco June 15. “I drove in from Southside and found a parking place early and never had to move my car. It was great being able to explore more of San Marco than I might have if I had been forced to move my car to find another place to park.”  

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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