Thanks to some forward thinkers on Scenic 30A, transportation options are changing.
On May 24, 30A welcomed the Sunshine Turtle Express.
Free to the public, this pilot transportation program is privately funded by local business and community leaders dedicated to changing the car-centric culture of the area.
John Finch, Owner of Sunshine Shuttle & Limousine of Santa Rosa Beach, sees this as a jumping off point to expanding public transportation county line to county line, one Turtle Express at a time.
“We can no longer stick our heads in the sand, hoping the traffic conditions disappear. As the most recent TDC survey proved, this service is No. 4 on the list of what the public would like to see implemented throughout South Walton County,” Finch said. “The leaders we’ve worked with know that by investing in a system benefitting the entire community, not just their businesses, everyone will see positive change.”
Those leaders include:
- Robert Davis & Pam Avera, Town of Seaside
- Jay Odom, Crystal Beach Development
- Johnny Earles, Grayton Bar & Grill
- Chip Haring & George Hartley, V Seagrove Restaurant
- Grant Blackwell & Billy Buzzett, Grayton Beach Neighborhood Association
- Skip & Victoria Moore, 723 Whiskey Bravo
- Jane & Marie Solomon, 850 Properties
- Joel Williams, The Bowery on 30a
- Harriet Crommelin, Café Thirty-A
- Richard Veldman, Rivard Realty
Once known as the 30A Trolley, this venture has been in the works for more than three years.
Sunshine Shuttle & Limousine’s Finch and Alan Roberts, vice president of sales and marketing, sought funding from several sources. In the end, the private system was expedient and collaborative.
Funding a public transportation via private businesses and entire neighborhoods, which receive a stop in return for their investment, is a new concept here.
Finch said he has already had strong interest for stops at Gulf Place, Grayton Grand, and Shades in Inlet Beach for 2015. Several HOAs and entire communities would also like service next year. More stops and more ridership equal less traffic congestion, less drinking and driving, and less of a strain on our environment, he said.
"When this becomes known as a countywide amenity, the word will spread about how green we are, enhancing our already positive image, said Finch.”
Sunshine Turtle Express currently stops at The Bowery, Grayton Corners, Grayton Bar & Grill, Seaside, V Seagrove, 723 Whiskey Bravo, and Publix/NatureWalk on 395.
A live map of the Turtle Express is viewable on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone at: sunshineshuttle.com/turtleexpress; and 30a.com
Hours of operation: 11 a.m. – midnight, May 24 – Sept. 1, 2014.
For more information call 917-524-4818, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sunshineshuttlecom.