Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Last-minute call clears the road for party buses in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — After a series of false starts, it looks as if bar hoppers will finally be able to catch a ride on open-air party buses.

Rhett Reynolds, an entrepreneur from Minneapolis-St. Paul, said he will debut his 14-seat vehicle next weekend. It's powered by 10 pedaling passengers and will be marketed to denizens of pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs, especially along Central Avenue and Beach Drive, who don't want to drive after a night of libations.

It'll be the first of its kind on Tampa Bay streets, and Reynolds said he plans next to expand to Ybor City and Clearwater Beach.

He'll have the pedibus on display today in front of downtown's Red Mesa Cantina between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. Those interested in riding it can sign up, he said. Mondays through Friday it'll cost $175 an hour to rent, which, split 14 ways, comes to $12.50 per customer. On Saturdays and Sundays, Reynolds plans to charge $200 an hour, or $14.29 per customer.

"It's been a roller coaster ride to get to this point," Reynolds said. "I had kind of lost faith."

After months of lobbying council members, Reynolds had thought he had won a victory in October when they approved new rules that would allow the buses to operate on city streets. But the rules were strict, limiting where they could go — mainly Central Avenue and Beach Drive — while requiring a hefty $5 million insurance policy.

That insurance requirement was too much for Reynolds and his company, City Cycle Tours, which is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. He said one carrier told him it would cost $70,000 a year to have such a policy.

The insurance was also too much for Krista Bertelson. She is the manager of PedalPub, another Minneapolis-St. Paul-based company that operates a fleet of 16-seat vehicles.

On Thursday, they both asked the council to reduce the insurance requirement to $1 million covered per incident, $2 million overall.

But Council Chair Jim Kennedy and council members Leslie Curran and Steve Kornell voted against easing the insurance requirement. Even though a majority of council members — Jeff Danner, Bill Dudley, Wengay Newton, Karl Nurse, Herb Polson — voted to ease the rules, a super majority was required because the ordinance had recently been passed.

"The fact that the companies couldn't find insurance in many respects reinforces to me the need for the insurance in the first place," Kennedy said. "They are having insurance companies tell them that this is unsafe."

Reynolds and Bertelson said the vehicles are safe and that, in most cities, they only need policies that cover up to $1 million.

Without a break on insurance costs from the council, Reynolds and Bertelson said after the meeting they would have to go elsewhere.

"This is the end for St. Pete," Bertelson said. "We can't make it work here."

What Reynolds didn't know at the time, however, was that an insurance carrier had just called his cell phone, which had been put on silent. The carrier could give him the policy he needed for $18,000 a year. He expects gross revenues of $300,000 with low overhead costs. By Reynolds' estimates, he could afford the insurance.

"We're signing it," Reynolds said. "We're good to go."

In other action Thursday, the City Council:

• Unanimously voted to give a historic designation to Jennie Hall Pool, built in 1954 in Wildwood Heights as a pool where black people could swim during segregation. The designation makes it more difficult to close or demolish, which could be important because Mayor Bill Foster is considering a plan to close some city pools and open a couple of large regional aquatic parks in their place. "This is a real easy vote," council member Steve Kornell said. "Jennie Hall Pool means a lot to the entire community."

• Unanimously voted to approve a $105,000 tax break for a yet-to-be identified company to relocate to the Gateway area. The company will get the payment, along with $105,000 in a county tax refund (if Pinellas County Commissioners approve it Tuesday) and $840,000 in a state tax refund, if it creates 150 jobs by the end of December 2014.

Last-minute call clears the road for party buses in St. Petersburg 12/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 1, 2011 11:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. In this Dec. 4, 2016, file photo, Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the third hole during the final round at the Hero World Challenge golf tournament in Nassau, Bahamas. Woods has been arrested on a drunken driving charge in Palm Beach County , various media outlets are reporting. [AP photo]
  2. Tiger Woods arrested on DUI charge in Florida

    Public Safety

    Tiger Woods was arrested on a DUI charge Monday in Jupiter, according to the Palm Beach County sheriff's office.

    Tiger Woods has been arrested on a DUI charge in Florida.
  3. Young male hospitalized after shooting in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — A juvenile male was injured Monday morning in a shooting in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S, police said.

    A juvenile was injured in a shooting Monday morning in the 2300 block of 17th Ave S in St. Petersburg. (Zachary Sampson, Tampa Bay Times)
  4. Big rents and changing tastes drive dives off St. Pete's 600 block

    Music & Concerts

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kendra Marolf was behind the lobby bar of the State Theatre, pouring vodka sodas for a weeknight crowd packed tight for Bishop Briggs, the latest alternative artist to sell out her club.

    Sam Picciano, 25, left, of Tampa and Molly Cord 24, Palm Harbor shop for record albums for a friend at Daddy Kool Records located on the 600 block of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Florida on Saturday, May 20, 2017. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  5. How Hollywood is giving its biggest stars digital facelifts


    LOS ANGELES — Johnny Depp is 53 years old but he doesn't look a day over 26 in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie — at least for a few moments. There was no plastic surgeon involved, heavy makeup or archival footage used to take the actor back to his boyish "Cry Baby" face, however. It's all …

    This combination of photos released by Disney, shows the character Jack Sparrow at two stages of his life in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales."  Johnny Depp, who portrays the character, is the latest mega-star to get the drastic de-aging treatment on screen
[Disney via Associated Press]