LAKELAND, Fla. — “Squeeze” is the word of the holiday season in Lakeland. They’re not talking about orange juice, but transportation. Squeeze is the name of Citrus Connection's new shuttle line that will transport visitors to points of interest throughout the downtown business district via eight-seater golf carts.
“We want to change the perception of public transportation here in Polk County,” said Erin Killebrew, Director of External Affairs for Citrus Connection. “We want you to be able to get on and have that experience with the operator and be able to joke around with them, have an open-air experience.”
The Squeeze, a one-year pilot project, will run during lunchtime Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will take passengers up and down on a loop around downtown Lakeland. It will stop at popular locations along the way.
It costs just $2 for the whole day or $3 for the whole week. The service will display a custom-branded QR Code to allow for payment via mobile apps like Venmo and CashApp.
“For the first probably few months we want to see where our saturation patches are, where people are getting on, where people are going, we are going to adjust our stops based on that,” said Killebrew.
“The novelty of it and the convenience of getting in and out of where you want to go, this helps identify the Lakeland area and will draw folks from around the county over here and we’re excited about it,” added Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey
The lunchtime route includes stops up and down Kentucky and Tennessee Avenues and one outside Lakeland's food hall, The Joinery, where owner Jonathon Bucklew couldn’t be more pleased. Right now, he says customers are sometimes discouraged due to a lack of parking outside the popular spot.
“There are pockets of more than enough parking but the people who park there often don’t walk the extra few blocks to get to businesses where parking is tighter so I really think this is going to make a big impact,” said Bucklew.
The Squeeze also offers an expanded route Friday and Saturday nights, with stops as far as the RP Funding Center and Florida Southern College. It will operate from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Friday nights and 4:30 p.m. to midnight on Saturday nights.
“If they overindulge on an adult beverage on the evening, that’s an extra benefit,” said Lindsey.
If you’re visiting Lakeland for the first time, the Squeeze is a breeze to check out all the city has to offer.
“So you have the prettiest drive, you get to see just the beautiful work that's been done to just kind of cultivate and revitalize the downtown,” said Bucklew.
The Squeeze officially debuts Monday, Nov. 29. For more information, click this link.