New mode of transportation offers free rides through downtown, OTR
There’s a new mode of transportation on the streets of Cincinnati, and it’s absolutely free.
GEST, a golf cart transportation company, launched this weekend in downtown and Over-the-Rhine.
There are currently six cars on the street, and owners said they hope to have more in coming days and at least 20 by Reds Opening Day on March 29.
GEST is a free shuttle service that goes anywhere downtown, from The Banks to Over-the-Rhine and from JACK Casino to Cincinnati Music Hall.
GEST carts will operate from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays, weather permitting.
“You’ll hail us just like a cab,” co-founder Patrick Dye said.
“We did over 300 rides just Saturday night alone. The hardest concept for people to understand is that it’s free. They give you the look of, ‘What do you mean, it’s free? And you’ll take anywhere I want to go downtown?’ It’s free.”
“I won’t take them out in the snow or the rain. If it’s a hard rain, we won’t do it. Snow especially, just for safety of the guests and for the customers and also of my drivers,” Dye said.
A smartphone app is in the works, and will hopefully by operation by spring, owners said.
Dye told WLWT the free rides are paid for by corporate sponsorships, which include exterior cart signage and onboard digital opportunities.
The carts cannot go faster than 25 mph and have been approved by the Department of Transportation approved.
“You have to have a DOT windshield, windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, brake lights, lowspeed vehicle spot on the back. There is a big sign on the back, turn signals. It’s a car,” Dye said.
“The big thing is: You can’t take these on a street that’s more than 35 mph. So everywhere downtown is (under) 35 mph, so that’s a big reason why we’re able to drive them.”
Potential riders told WLWT downtown needs as many forms of transportation as possible.
“I think it’s a great idea. It’s something we need — additional transportation downtown, in addition to Uber, the streetcar and cabs. I think this is a great idea and it’s a startup local so that even makes it that much better,” Brian Klein said.
GEST told WLWT it is fully insured and will deny passengers a ride if they are unsafe or appear too intoxicated.
“The safety issue is other cars on the road and people falling out. I know they have a plastic liner I saw on the side of it but it’s easy to get out of,” Nick Thompson said.