If you’ve recently taken a ride on Freebee — you might notice shorter wait times for the free transportation service. That’s because the Village just added two more electric vehicles to bring the total to eight.
Key Biscayne is getting even more funding through the Transit Development Program at the Florida Department of Transportation, said Colleen Blank, the Village’s capital improvement program and grants manager.
The Village in August received $167,000 to help pay for three Freebee vehicles this year. And another $152,000 will be coming for the 24-25 fiscal year, said Raymond Freeman, a manager at the Florida Transportation Department’s district office.
Roland Samimy, the Vilage’s chief resilience officer, said ridership has increased about 12% percent over last year to 8,000 rides per month.
“We want ridership to go up to say 10,000 a month,” Samimy said. “So we are trying to stimulate the demand by reducing the wait times.”
Most of the service is paid from the half-panny County sales tax. The Florida state grant will retroactively pay for a Freebee added last year as well as the additional vehicles that went into service this month.
Customers use an app to book rides from their location. Riders can have Freebee drop them off at Calusa Circle so they can walk to Crandon Park Beach. Samimy said Freebee even goes into Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
Freebee started as an experiment in 2016 under management by the Key Biscayne Community Foundation before being taken over by the Village. Samimy said he believes Key Biscayne was one of the first municipalities to fully embrace Freebee.
“I believe we are on pace to be their biggest program,” he said.