Sandestin contracts free tram service

Published: Monday, April 22, 2013 at 09:42 AM.

SANDESTIN — For the first time in more than 10 years, everyone who stays at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort will have access to free transportation.

After three years of negotiations, the various entities that oversee Sandestin, including property owners the Becnel family, the Hilton Sandestin, individual management companies and the Sandestin Owners Association, have signed a three-year contract with Sunshine Shuttle to provide free tram service for people who stay at the resort.

“Sandestin is now full and completely developed out, and they didn’t take into the fact that the impact the full community would have on the streets and lights backing up,” said John Finch, owner of Sunshine Shuttle. “That’s the whole idea behind this of now bringing in a green element where people don’t have to necessarily drive here anymore. They don’t have to rent cars.”

Finch said the service is designed to cut down on traffic on the resort grounds so people vacationing or in town for meetings won’t need to rent a vehicle. Sunshine Shuttle will pick up visitors at the airport, and there are several tram routes throughout Sandestin that can reach any destination there within 30 minutes of pickup.

The tram service was tested in March during spring break and officially launched at the beginning of April. During the peak summer season, Sunshine Shuttle will offer eight trams throughout the day.

“The environmental impact it has on the community has been received in a very positive way, and it helps with the traffic congestion,” Finch said. “One tram holds 25 people. That could be up to 25 cars off the road. You have six or eight of them going and you see the impact it has on congestion there.”

Sunshine Shuttle plans to launch a new phone app this week that will allow users to pull up the tram routes and their actual location in real time to plan their outings.

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