Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) will soon have a competitor on the road.
Last fall, David Krbec and Patrick Green conceived an idea for an island shuttle service, after spending $25 to park on a Siesta Key lawn to visit Siesta Key Beach.
Krbec operates Happy Hour Shuttle Service in Cocoa Beach, and Green, a Bradenton native, thought the idea would work on Siesta.
Krbec and Green started DKPG LLC Nov. 9, according to a filing with the Florida Department of State Division of Corporations.
Shortly after, the pair bought a 40-foot Gillig Phantom bus, and Jan. 28 they plan to launch Siesta Shuttle Transportation. Krbec and Green spent $20,000 to buy the bus and start repairs.
“We don’t have time to wait,” Green chuckled during a Jan. 14 interview with the Pelican Press.
If they can consistently fill the 42 seats on the bus during the route from the parking lot of Westfield Southgate Mall to Siesta Village and Siesta beach, the entrepreneurs may expand to Sarasota Square Mall and add routes to St. Armands Circle.
Sarasota County would only regulate where the bus stops, so Siesta Shuttle’s actual operations would fall outside of county oversight, explained Sarasota County Assistant Zoning Administrator Donna Thompson.
“That’s more regulated through the tax collector and whatever the DMV would require,” Thompson said.
“The demand is definitely there,” said Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kevin Cooper.
Siesta beachgoers already have access to free beach rides and pedicabs as transportation options.
“Anytime we’re able to supplement that with offsite parking is a great opportunity,” Cooper said.
Krbec and Green plan to partner with Siesta and Southgate Mall businesses for cross-promotions, such as store discounts with the presentation of Siesta Shuttle wristbands.
“The opportunities are endless,” Krbec said.
Siesta Shuttle’s main revenue source in the short term will come from ridership, which will cost $5 per round-trip. Patrons would use a planned kiosk in the mall to purchase wristbands for the ride. The trip is free for children under 12, according to the Siesta Shuttle website.
The firm launched an eBay auction Jan. 7 for 260 square feet of advertising space on the back of the shuttle. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee topped 37 other bids with a $3,150 submission for six months of ad space worth $20,000, according to the eBay auction website.
“We wanted to try something different,” Krbec said.
The firm’s site boasts 30-minute intervals between pick-ups, but the pair thinks that will be closer to an hour until they add another bus.
According to the SCAT website, the Sarasota County Area Transit No. 11 route makes seven stops on the hour. The Siesta Shuttle would make three stops.
The company removed eight seats on the bus to provide space for coolers, umbrellas and beach chairs, which the pair sees as another competitive edge over SCAT.
“We want to make it more than just transportation,” Green said.
The firm plans to offer guides to local businesses and events, in the form of pamphlets, which affords another advertising opportunity.
“I think as long as (Krbec and Green) get the word out, the demand is definitely there,” Cooper said.