Advertised routes for downtown Lakeland shuttles; the service is launched in the fall

LAKELAND – Lakeland Transit has unveiled maps of downtown shuttle service routes slated to launch this fall.

Citrus Connection will use eight-passenger golf carts on a shuttle service called The Squeeze to transport visitors during weekday lunch and weekend evenings.

Tom Phillips, executive director of Citrus Connection, said the proposed routes were written with input from Julie Townsend, director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Agency, and Chuck Barmby, director of business development and transportation at Lakeland.

“We wanted to involve business and city government, but we didn’t want to pick winners and losers,” Phillips said.

Previously: Are you looking for a new way to get around? Shuttle service to be deployed in July

The lunch route will run Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Phillips said. Its aim is to serve workers who are heading to central Lakeland during their lunch break.

“Most people have limited time for lunch,” Townsend said. “If you’re lucky enough to have an hour’s lunch break, we want you to be convinced that downtown is a lunch destination for you by taking the guesswork out of finding a parking space.”

The lunch route begins at The Joinery, located at 640 E. Main Street, heading east to Kentucky Avenue. The loop heads north to Bay Street before following Tennessee Avenue and completes the loop by turning onto Lake Morton Drive back to Kentucky Ave.

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The proposed lunch loop for The Squeeze, a new downtown shuttle service from Citrus Connection slated to launch this fall, will primarily tour Munn Park in the center with a jaunt to The Joinery near Mirror Lake.

Phillips said the entire circuit will take around five to seven minutes and there will be two trolleys in circulation, ideally halfway through. All passenger stops will be marked with sandwich panels at first, he said. This will give Citrus Connection the ability to easily change the lunch itinerary based on customer feedback and usage patterns in the first few months.

“The night shuttle is a whole different animal,” Phillips said.

On weekends, the downtown shuttles will operate from 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., serving primarily visitors and students of the city. Phillips said the service aims to provide out of town guests staying at hotels near the RP Funding Center and Florida Southern College students a quick and easy way to dine and enjoy the sights.

A shuttle will depart from the RP Funding Center, north of Lake Wire with stops at Swan Brewing, Phillips said, before heading east to circle Mirror Lake, passing popular spots such as The Joinery. , Texas Cattle Company and The Poor Porker and allowing passenger access. at Hollis Garden and the Lake Mirror Center.

“It’s important to include these areas because people often don’t feel part of the city center in terms of walking distance,” Townsend said.

The overnight shuttle will head north to allow access to Munn Park, before heading south along South Tennesse Avenue to Lake Morton Drive. These stops will allow residents of the Lake Morton community to access the shuttle. It will then continue to Usonian House on the Florida Southern College campus. The second cart will travel the route in the opposite direction, according to Phillips, as it takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete the tour.

Townsend said she hopes including Florida Southern College as an end point on the road will encourage more students to come downtown.

“The students, we want them to love the city they call home during the years they are with us,” she said. “Hopefully a few decide to stay because they fall in love with Lakeland.”

Visitors to Lakeland can also take the shuttle to see performing arts events at the FSC Branscomb Auditorium.

Citrus Connection will launch a new shuttle service in July using three street-approved electric carts, like the one pictured above, to transport people around downtown Lakeland.  Service will be provided during weekday lunch hours and weekend evenings.

Ticket prices for the shuttle have been set at $ 2 for a day pass, $ 3 per week, and $ 9 per month for unlimited service. Payment for the service will only be made through a mobile ticketing app, Phillips said, with a token system being developed primarily for single hotel guests.

The kickoff of the downtown shuttles, which were once slated to debut in July as part of the annual Red, White and Kaboom Independence Day celebration, has been postponed until the fall.

The transit agency has ordered three gas-powered golf carts for a total price of about $ 70,000, Phillips said, well below the $ 100,000 budget approved by the agency’s board of directors. of public transport. Unfortunately, the carts are unlikely to be delivered before the city’s summer events.

You can reach Sara-Megan Walsh at [email protected] or 863-802-7545. Follow on Twitter @SaraWalshFl.

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