CINCINNATI (AP) — An entrepreneurial Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader and her husband have teed off on a new way of getting around the city's downtown: golf carts.
GEST Carts offers rides on weekend nights to attractions such as riverfront restaurants, a casino and other entertainment spots. Co-founders Patrick and Lauren Dye have rolled out the service slowly, with plans to expand in time for Cincinnati's popular Opening Day festivities in late March when the Reds begin baseball season.
Long associated with retirement communities, golf carts are increasingly being seen as urban transit options.
Services similar to GEST (Green, Easy, Safe Transportation) are running from Auburn, Alabama, to Toledo, Ohio. They offer environmentally friendly rides at low rates — in advertising-sponsored GEST's case, for free — at slow speeds suited for sightseeing or mingling. Patrick liked the one in Nashville, and he saw an opportunity in Cincinnati with its revitalized downtown area.
"I think it would be great anywhere," Lauren Dye said as her husband drove past Cincinnati's recently renovated Music Hall. "It's just a really fun mode of transportation."
Prince was singing "Little Red Corvette" in the background, part of the '80s music mix among the choices passengers can make for their rides.
The service comes as regional leaders have identified improving transportation as a key priority.
Cincinnati area officials last month announced a partnership with Uber to create the Cincinnati Mobility Lab. Uber will share transportation data and launch studies of such issues as curbside congestion and bus services in the Cincinnati-northern Kentucky region.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said working with Uber is an example of looking to the future for better transportation options.
The Dyes, who operate the Scene Ultra Lounge downtown, launched GEST just before New Year's, relying mainly on word-of-mouth. Attention grew quickly, especially as the city's streetcar system suffered repeated shutdowns because of cold weather and ice.
Patrick Dye said the golf carts aren't meant to compete with the streetcar, and they've had good cooperation with city administrators on getting their business running.
He said that they've averaged 300 to 500 passengers a night and will begin daytime service on Opening Day, March 29, with a cart fleet up to 10 from the current six.
"This is just one more piece to bring and entice people to come to downtown Cincinnati and another tool that people can use to get around," he said.
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