Jump On Express stops
Mercato across from Bravo!
Fifth Avenue South and Sixth Street
Third Street South and 12th Avenue
Fifth Avenue South and East Lake Drive.
The two Jump On Express buses are expected to arrive at each stop about every half hour.
There's an unspoken rivalry over customers between downtown Naples businesses and those in Mercato — and a new transportation service hopes to fix that.
Starting today, two buses will take riders between Mercato, Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South free of charge. Jump On Express (JOE), the brainchild of North Naples resident Shannon Livingston, will be paid for by businesses who flash their ads on TVs inside the buses.
The service is expected to circulate customers who would have otherwise stayed put.
"It's a way to not have to drive to all three hot spots in town," said JOE spokeswoman Nicole Angelo. "Taxis can get very expensive, so they stay in that one little area and don't venture out where there's a lot more to offer."
For now, the buses will run from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Riders don't need to call ahead to hop on, and the two buses are expected to arrive at stops every 30 minutes.
One of the stops is across from Bravo!, an Italian restaurant in Mercato.
"It's a great thing to give those people who frequent downtown the ability to come up here without having to worry about driving through traffic or what kind of parking there will be," executive chef Eric Stout said.
Ingrid Aielli, co-owner of Sea Salt restaurant on Third Street, said she plans on advertising dinner specials on JOE.
"I think it's a great idea — it's a bridge between north and south Naples, and I really believe that we all will benefit," she said. "If we work together it will be more like, come downtown for some appetizers, maybe a glass of wine up north, then an additional glass of wine downtown."
Although riders still have to find their own way home after a night out, Angelo said it shortens the drive or the length of a cab ride.
"Even if they have to take a taxi home, it's still closer to their area of town," she said. "If they're living in Lely, they're not having to ride home from Mercato."
Aielli said she hopes the service will encourage people to shake up their nightlife routine.
"This is about bringing the community together, the north and the south," she said. "It's Old Naples and new Naples coming together."
For more information on the Jump On Express, visit www.jumponexpress.com or call 239-250-2520.