On a steamy summer day or a freezing winter night, a new transportation option could make it easier to move around downtown Macon.
Gene Watson is pushing for golf-cart-style shuttles to be available for people who live, work and shop in the city’s core. As downtown Macon continues growing, the shuttles could provide better mobility, Watson said.
“The shuttles are a great option,” he said. “They’re quiet, nonpolluting, smaller than a car, more maneuverable and can easily get in and out of parking decks. It’s just a really viable option that I think is very sustainable.”
Watson is asking people to show their support for the shuttles by contacting Macon-Bibb commissioners and visiting the Macon Needs Rides Facebook page. Other cities such as Tampa, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Asheville, North Carolina, have shuttles to take people around their main business and entertainment districts.
There have been similar options in downtown Macon in the past, and last year Macon-Bibb commissioners made it legal for golf carts to be driven on certain downtown streets. The shuttles could tie into a new downtown parking plan that the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority is developing.
“It sounds like a great idea,” Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore said. “It’s what we’re trying to do, which is create new transit alternatives for the businesses.”
Details such as how people might use the shuttles would have to be worked out. Among the options could be shuttles running a certain route continuously, or on-demand service in which people use a phone app, much like Uber, to request a ride.
The vehicles would cost $10,000 to $20,000 each depending on the size. Some of the price could be offset by offering advertising on the shuttles or fliers given to riders.
The shuttles could become popular among downtown employees who have to park a few blocks from work or want an easier way to grab a bite to eat during the day, Watson said.
“It was amazing to me how many people — business owners, workers, diners — that were so interested in the shuttle and having that type of service,” he said.