Proving the old adage that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink, one month and only one passenger later, Glenn Morehead has pulled the plug on his free F&BUS service. [content-1]
As CP reported in February, after running Charleston Culinary Tours for seven years, Morehead was more than familiar with Charleston F&Bers biggest complaint: parking. That’s why Morehead launched the free 24-seat service industry shuttle to help out restaurant employees looking to avoid the lack of parking and downtown’s high garage fees.
A study suggests service industry employees on the peninsula pay between $25 and $100 a month in parking fees. Which is why Morehead’s epiphany seemed like shut a perfect solution. Who wouldn’t turn down the change to ride a free (gratuity only) shuttle with pick-up points in West Ashley and James Island?
“I was getting nobody. I had one rider,” says Morehead still in shock. “I did the full on stops for first week of James Island and Frothy Beard to use their lot. Then I put it on hiatus and posted message on Chucktown F&B Collective asking what needs to be done. I did some new times and more geared for late night. I got zero riders.”
More perplexing to the entrepreneur was the flip from the reaction he got from industry members upon announcing the service. “The feedback was phenomenal,” says Morehead of this initial post he put on Chucktown F&B Collective. It got 115 Likes while his phone was inundated with calls. But that social media enthusiasm didn’t translate to riders.
“Maybe it’s the way I was reaching out,” says Morehead. “I did get some calls from restaurants to give a spiel to the employees. If I would have had five people on the bus, I would know it was gonna gain some traction and I would have kept going, but zero?”
The irony is, parking meter fees are about to jump up to an hourly rate of $2 and extend the enforcement period to 10 p.m., an additional four hours longer than the current time. Not to mention the wait for the city’s proposed park and ride is not entirely clear.
“Somebody posted a huge thing on that story on the Collective and some people posted my page and I thought for sure that would get me a few rides,” says Morehead. Alas, no dice.
“It literally boggles my mind,” he says. “I don’t know why they chose not to ride.”
And Morehead, whose business model was designed entirely around tips from grateful riders, can’t wait around for F&Bers to see the light, so he’s putting the brakes on shuttle biz, but not parking the bus entirely.
“One good thing that did come out of this was a lot of people contacted me that want to use the bus in other ways — concierge service, private events, or people who need shuttle to Folly, or bachelorette parties. I’ve got some deals in place. I just really wanted this to work out and I wanted to give back but nobody wanted to take.”
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