Undeterred by a disappointing test drive, a group examining the viability of a downtown circulator gave a potential vehicle a second try on Tuesday — with vastly improved results.
The six-passenger golf cart-style electric vehicle, provided by the Sarasota company Cruise Car Inc., lasted about ten hours during its test drive along a proposed circulator route this week. Bill Kics, a contract manager with Cruise Car, said the company was able to make the vehicle last nearly twice as long as the original test earlier this month after adjusting its computer system and electric motor.
“We are going to tweak it a little bit more, and my technicians think we're going to be able to increase the distance by another 20%,” Kics said. “If everything goes smoothly, I think we're going to fully meet what the downtown people were looking for”
The circulator is the brainchild of Downtown Sarasota Alliance board member Peter Fanning and Downtown Improvement District Operations Manager John Moran. The idea, formulated two years ago, resurfaced at a recent meeting of downtown businesses worried that the construction of the State Street garage would decrease foot traffic downtown.
The proposed 4.5-mile route focuses on servicing people staying at hotels adjacent to downtown, extending along Island Park Drive to the Ritz-Carlton and down Boulevard of the Arts to Hotel Indigo and the Hyatt Regency. The route also covers Main Street from U.S. 301 to the bayfront, and Palm Avenue from Ringling Boulevard to Cocoanut Avenue.
Moran said current plans were for the circulator to run for 12 hours, and that the goal was to pick up people along the route every five minutes. The next test drive will take place in about three weeks, Kics said.
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