2009-08-13 / News

Island Shuttle offers safe, convenient alternative to driving

By Lee Gaines

Paul Sprague of Island Shuttle is offering Jamestowners a transportation alternative. Photo by Jeff McDonough Paul Sprague of Island Shuttle is offering Jamestowners a transportation alternative. Photo by Jeff McDonough Paul Sprague wants you to have a good time. However, he would like you to do it responsibly.

A seasoned entrepreneur, Sprague – who founded the Jamestown Ferry service and later, the heating oil delivery company, Island Energy – has recently launched a third service-oriented business called Island Shuttle.

The need for a shuttle service to the island’s village has existed for years and Sprague says the plan came to him after discussions with local restaurant and bar owners who were dismayed by the number of DUI arrests. Sprague and others feared that locals who wanted to go out for a glass or two of wine and a meal would decide that the risk was too great and stay home, leaving empty tables downtown.

Sprague decided to create a service that would encourage people to enjoy an evening at the island dining establishments responsibly. He wanted Island Shuttle to become not only a business, but an aid to the community and local commerce.

“It’s a small island and we want to try to keep people safe,” he said.

He began working on the idea back in March, he said, but offi cially opened just in time for the July 4th holiday. After only a month, the business has expanded to incorporate shuttle trips to Newport and T.F. Green Airport. But, he said, the company is not a taxi service.

Currently, only one shuttle is in operation, and Sprague and his friend and employee, Bob Rice, are the only drivers.

“I’m not trying to compete with cabs in Newport,” he said. “I want to focus my company on the people of Jamestown.”

Technically, Island Shuttle falls under the business category of a limousine. Sprague would like his customers to think of its services as something that should be scheduled in advance. “We want people to use us, but to preplan and be ready,” he said.

So far, people have done just that. The phones were recently jumping off the hook with questions from customers and a few misinformed individuals. “No, we ship people,” Sprague said, after a UPS clerk asked if he shipped packages.

Sprague said he has been pleasantly surprised by the feedback he has received.

“Everyone has been very supportive,” he said, adding that he is grateful for Rice’s help. “Part of the success of this business and Island Energy is due to his help.”

If business continues to grow, Sprague said he would likely add another vehicle. “It would be a great problem to have,” he said.

In Jamestown, a ride from anywhere at the north end to the south end of the island will cost you $10 for the first two people and $1 for each additional passenger in your party. Shuttle rides in the downtown area, from Narragansett Avenue to Hamilton Avenue and north to Mount Hope Avenue, run $5 for the first two people and $1 for every additional member of your party.

Sprague said his goal is to offer an inexpensive service to the community.

“I want people to say, ‘It’s so affordable I’m going to use it, how can I pass this up?’” he said.

Sprague recently made the shuttle available on shorter notice on Friday and Saturday nights. “Have a great time, drink and don’t get in your car,” he said. “There’s no reason for it.”

Although he prefers that people call in advance, Sprague said he doesn’t want anyone to be afraid to call last minute.

“We’ll do our best to accommodate people and make an effort to be there even if it is short notice,” he said.

Sprague said he might also need to hire another employee soon.

“I’m running an oil company and raising a couple of kids along with this business, things can get a little dicey,” he said.

For more information about Island Shuttle, call 560-0223.

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