“From A to B for Free”
A new wave of transportation is hitting Charleston and it’s free. Yes entirely free, though tips to drivers are encouraged. The service is called Scoop and gives rides at no cost anywhere in the downtown area. Scoop uses a fleet of Nissan Leaf plugin electric vehicles that are completely gas and oil free and create zero air pollution. Scoops’ motto: “Zero emissions. Zero commissions.”
The service provides free rides anywhere on the peninsula south of Spring Street. Its hours of operation are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and Sunday and 11a.m. -midnight Friday and Saturday. To request a vehicle simply call the Scoop phone number and a car will be ready to greet you in approximately 10 minutes. Reservations are encouraged to guarantee a vehicle at the specific time you need.
Instead of charging fares for rides, Scoop makes its money by partnering with local businesses that advertise on iPad’s inside the vehicles, calling it an “Eco-llaboration”. Partners include: Fleet Landing Restaurant and Bar, Wild Wing Café, Sweet CeCe’s Café and HydroFly Watersports. Scoop CEO John Suddath said, “We decided to employ digital displays so that riders can interact with the brands, while also making things a little less tacky.” Suddath explained, “Ads vary from car to car, and will be in a constant state of change, as sponsors can change the content at their discretion to reflect current offerings, events, etc.” Eventually Scoop vehicles will be wrapped with sponsor logos as well.
Scoop prides itself on having knowledgeable and friendly drivers who are excited to give you a ride. Every driver is either a current student or recent graduate with experience in the hospitality or food and beverage industry. “We felt this was an important attribute in order to create a great experience for our riders, regardless of who your particular driver is,” Suddath explained.
Currently, the only way to request a ride from Scoop is by phone; however, that’s about to change. The company is in the works of creating a mobile app allowing customers to easily reserve a ride. Suddath said one should “expect very similar features to ride sharing apps, such as accurate wait times through Google traffic analytics, real time tracking of your Scoop car on the way to get you, and automatic text alerts when the vehicle arrives.” Suddath hopes to have the app finished within the next 90 days and plans to release it soon after.
The concept for Scoop came to Suddath while he was growing up in Hilton Head Island. Golf cart drivers would give free rides and only ask for tips. The carts were also covered in advertising from local business sponsors. Suddath said, “We wanted to clean the concept up a little and bring it to Charleston.” He met with state and city leaders to gain approval for his plan. City Council gave Scoop a Certificate of Public Convenience, which is required by law before starting business in the state. So yes, Scoop is entirely legal and here to stay.
Suddath says Scoop was “on track to give more rides in the month of January than we did in November and December combined.” Fridays and Saturdays have proven to be the company’s busiest time, as they usually give around 200 rides between the two days. For the future of Scoop, Suddath says he’s looking forward to “streamlining the process through the app, adding more cars to the fleet to serve everyone, bringing on new local business partners to work together on promotion, and educating more people on how great EV’s are and the benefits they have for our beautiful city!”
To request a ride with Scoop call 843.900.4070 and visit them at www.scoopchs.com