Freebee is carefree for riders
Thursday, October 31, 2019
Outside of her home on the upper west side of Miami Lakes, retiree Sila Rivero stepped into a modified golf cart called the Freebee.
“I’m so glad to see you!” Rivero said in Spanish to driver Xavier Mejia as he picked her up for a 1.5 mile trip to Royal Oaks Plaza on Miami Lakes Drive.
The Freebee is an electric ride service that has shuttled people of all ages around town since January 2018, at no cost to passengers.
Some customers are like Rivero: they don’t drive and like that the Freebee picks them up at their doors and drops them off in front of their destinations.
They also like that it can be summoned the old-fashioned way, by phone.
Younger customers –- school kids who gather around the Main Street fountain after school or adults who work in town and want to leave their cars in their driveways –- use the Freebee app to order a ride.
The app lets riders choose music that a driver will play upon arrival, and also connects passengers to deals at businesses around town.
Riders in Miami Lakes are eligible for discounts at restaurants and for beauty services.
Freebees can be found in three South Florida counties and 13 cities or neighborhoods.
It is funded by advertising that covers the vehicles as well as about $200,000 from the town budget.
Between 2,500 and 3,000 passengers use it to get around town each month.
Freebee riders can avoid waiting for a bus, don’t have to withstand inclement weather and don’t have to lug groceries or other belongings.
Wheelchair users can ride in the larger Freebee van.
The Freebee vehicles hold five or nine passengers and have seat belts. The company says it has its own insurance if there is an emergency.
And unlike a taxi or ride sharing service such as Uber or Lyft, passengers don’t have to pay.
Riders may want to avoid ordering a Freebee when school lets out, as that is a peak demand time.
On a Thursday afternoon in October when the humidity was bearable, Mejia drove Rivero and other Freebee passengers along Miami Lakes’ sun-dappled streets.
With the breeze coming through the golf cart’s open windows, one could admire the beauty of the town, rather than having to focus on the tail lights of the vehicles ahead.
Rivero relies on Freebee to get her errands done.
That means twice-weekly trips to Winn Dixie and occasionally the pharmacy.
Her peers also use it to go to the public library; Shula’s Athletic Club and classes at the Mary Collins Community Center, Freebee driver Mejia said.
As Rivero disembarked at Winn-Dixie, she pressed some cash into Mejia’s hand, for a “cafecito,” she said.
“I love this service,” Rivero said. “I hope it stays here for many, many more years.”
If You Go
Monday – Thursday
9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
For more info:
Download the app or call
305-901-9500 to request a ride.