Your New Favorite Mode of Transport: The Roo

Posted on October 26, 2014

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By: Lees Romano

photo-1-e1411075546765With the help of a bus route called “The Roo,” barhopping in the Cooper-Young District and Overton Square is about to get a lot easier, safer, and cheaper. These areas have enjoyed great success on their own, yet these areas are too far away from each other for pedestrians to walk and result in a waste of time, energy, and profit. The solution to linking these two districts? Ride the Roo, a unique, 17-seat shuttle bus with a massive kangaroo—complete with sunglasses and a martini glass—perched on the top of the vehicle. 

For at least three years now, Midtown residents have been asking for a private shuttle service that links popular arts, entertainment, and retail destinations. The Roo, launched in mid-September by the cab company entitled Premier Transportation Services, is now transporting bar hoppers and shoppers between the two entertainment districts and other areas in between. The shuttle includes premium audio and visual systems that feature classic and contemporary Memphis music. The vehicle runs Thursdays from 5 p.m. to midnight and on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. It runs every 30 minutes and is wheelchair-accessible. The bus will also feature additional standing room with hand-grips in the future.

Bus fares will be set at $2, and passengers can board the bus at 10 stops, all located throughout Overton Square and in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. The route begins next to the  Huey’s on Madison and ends at the corner of Cooper and Young. Stops will feature distinct signage to differentiate between the Premier stops and the MATA bus stops. The route will make use of Trimble Place in Overton Square and Union to keep Madison from getting too clogged or congested. The route in total has 11 stops at locations including Huey’s, Bar Louie, Chiwawa, Celtic Crossing, Café Ole, and Otherlands, amongst many others.

Ham Smythe IV and his family have transported Memphians for decades via their Yellow and Checker Cab services and Premier Transportation Co. Smythe says that the Roo would be available to rent for many occasions, including birthdays, parties, or just a good time during days or on nights when it isn’t running its usual course.

Passengers can log on to the Roo’s mobile website, www.ridetheroo.com, to gauge just where the shuttle is located and the direction it is headed, making it easier to plan drinks or dinner in Cooper-Young before heading out for a movie or play in Overton Square. The mobile website refreshes about every 15 seconds, giving riders a close to real-time view of the vehicle’s location. The green dot that appears shows passengers their own location, and the blue dot signifies the Roo’s.

Mary Caywood, marketing director for Overton Square and developer of Loeb properties, said she expects patrons and business owners to jump on board the service, stating that there are many possibilities for expanding the shuttle, including possibly creating stops at Rhodes College and Christian Brothers University and adding Broad Avenue as a destination. As a result of these initiatives, all Memphians can come to enjoy the arts, culture, and food that Memphis has to offer in a safe, efficient, and communal way.

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