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Free EV Shuttle Service Ready to Roll Downtown

Jan 26, 2017 05:26PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

A city-wrapped vehicle, one of six in the new Downtowner EV fleet

Looking for a quick and free lift to get around town? The new Downtowner electric vehicle shuttle service could be just the ticket.

The Downtowner has an initial fleet of six six-seater electric vehicles that will "hit the road" in Manhattan Beach on Wednesday, February 1. Its official hours of operation will be 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week.

"We hope to ease congestion, free up parking and make getting around Manhattan Beach more safe, fun and enjoyable," said Sam Knapp, one of the Downtowner's founding partners. 

To catch a ride, all you need to do is download the Downtowner app, click on "service area" to find a drop-down menu of cities, and choose Manhattan Beach. On February 1, you will be able to request a ride. There is no fee for the ride, but once the ride is over you may tip the driver and rate the ride on the app.

The service area during the six-month pilot period is from El Porto to 1st street, and from the Manhattan Beach Pier to Pacific Ave.

"We are over-the-moon excited about the launch of The Downtowner," said Kelly Stroman, executive director of the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professionals Association. "We are very confident that this will be a huge success, and the city will be quickly exploring the expansion of the fleet, service territory and additional storage and charging areas."

The state-of-the-art Gem Carts are equipped with two iPad screens on which riders will be able to view videos and information about the city, businesses, events, announcements, and more.

One of the cars will be available for viewing at the Manhattan Beach Farmers Market on Tuesday, January 31, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The car will not be taking rides, but it will be there for people to get acquainted with, take pictures, and download the app.

Additionally, to celebrate the official launch of the EV shuttle service, there will be a "ribbon-cutting” of sorts in front of City Hall on Thursday, February 2, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

The initial six vehicles are being stored and charged on the first level of the Metlox garage, but Stroman emphasized that no existing parking spaces are being used or given up for the service. The space where the vehicles are stored has been unused since Metlox first opened, she said.

The Manhattan Beach City Council had approved the electric shuttle pilot program last June, in response to ongoing concerns about parking in busy beach-side parking districts. Many downtown businesses, along with the the Downtown Manhattan Beach Business and Professional's Association, have advocated for this kind of service to alleviate the parking crunch during peak shopping and dining times.

Advertising sponsorships for the initial fleet is sold out, but inquiries for future sponsorships may be directed to

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