Florence launches ‘Downtown Connect’ shuttle service

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Starting Monday, The Pee Dee Regional Transportation Authority will offer extended bus hours. The new routes will serve to shuttle hotel visitors in the hospitality area off of I-95 to downtown Florence.

The goal of the project is to pull more visitors into Florence and give them an opportunity to explore the downtown area once they arrive.

“For the first time, we will be providing evening public transportation services,” announced PDRTA Executive Director Charles MacNeil at Monday’s press conference. “More notably giving folks that are visiting our city and all of the hotels that seem to be growing every day out by the civic center an opportunity to very easily get downtown and experience all the growth and development that’s going on in Downtown Florence. “

The new service will pick up guests staying in the hotels on Hospitality Blvd., W. Radio Drive, and Woody Jones Blvd. The route will run every thirty minutes from 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Friday.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to tie the commercialized exit to the cultural center of Florence. This way visitors get to see local restaurants and shops,” said Dan Paola, director of operations for Raines Hospitality.  “We get a lot of people who we recommend some downtown places, either they have been driving for hours, they don’t want to get back into a car.”

Johnathan Polson, executive chef at Victors restaurant in Downtown Florence,  is just one of many who are excited to be able to welcome a new mix of guests to the restaurant and welcomes the increase in business.

“It’s nice if we can get a little traffic from 95, or we can get traffic from people who think that’s all that Florence has to offer,” said Polson. “Downtown connect will certainly be good for us in the downtown area, and certainly be good for downtown as a whole.”

To promote Downtown Connect,  information screens have even been placed in the area hotels with all information on downtown restaurants and a remotely updated event calendar.

The Downtown connect begins Monday and if you would like to see the route and schedule, click here. The service begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday on Hospitality Blvd.