SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Some of our parents and grandparents took a train or street car to Tybee Island generations ago. Now, the ride to the beach is back.
Savannah, Tybee and Chatham counties are teaming up to bring the first public transportation to the island in years.
The Tybee shuttle starts every morning at 10 a.m. at the Savannah Visitors Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and runs straight to the Tybee pier and onto North Beach. The shuttle will leave again at 5 p.m. There's also a pick up and dropoff point or the Tybrisa/Strand Roundabout. It'll cost just $3 each way.
Interest is so strong, the Coastal Regional Commission, the group in charge of the shuttle, is already talking about expanding the service.
City and county officials held two ribbon cuttings, one at the visitor center in Savannah and the other at the pier on Tybee Island.
"We wanted to go to the beach but we didn't think we would be part of this media hoopla," Jody Stiles, Rockford, Ill., told WTOC.
The media hoopla was because it's a big deal. Jody Stiles and Margie Lineback are visiting from Rockford, Illinois and are the first official passengers on the new Tybee Island shuttle.
"We're excited to be the first ones," Stiles said.
However, they're not the last ones. After a very long absence, public transportation to and from the island is back in business. A loophole in federal guidelines for service to rural areas was discovered.
Tybee Island is considered rural.
"It was a shock to me too that Tybee Island is rural," Dan Coty, the Coastal Regional Commission chairman, told WTOC. "That allows us to provide the service to Tybee using state and federal dollars."
The Coastal Regional Coaches will run twice daily and WTOC was on board for the inaugural trip to the beach.
"I remember when I was a boy my mother would take us on the rail car to Tybee," Coty said.
Tybee and Savannah officials see it as a win-win on many levels.
"It saves on parking and people can get to the beach easy with no problems and the same when they come to Savannah," Mayor Otis Johnson told WTOC.
"It reduces traffic and congestion on the island, it cuts down on air pollution, it's great for everybody," Paul Wolff, of Tybee City Council, said.
"It was very nice. Great trip. Nice scenery. Great price. It was fabulous," Stiles and Lineback said.
So nice, the duo plans on coming back.
"Oh yeah. We'll be back. We will for sure," they said.
Schedules are available at both visitor centers and should soon be online. For more information call 800.223.8774 or go to http://crc.ga.gov.
The commission is already looking at adding extra shuttle runs, one in the early morning for people who work on Tybee Island, and another mid-day.