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Could Miami Beach's Free Electric Cars Solve Cities' Transit Problems?

Freebee cars lined up in Miami Beach.

On Friday, the city of Miami Beach will launch a partnership with Freebee for free, on-demand, door-to-door transportation to certain areas. Freebee's fleets of fully electric cars have been popular in Miami-area neighborhoods as solutions to transit woes. 

Freebee was started by two University of Miami graduates in 2011, at first offering free rides to bars and restaurants on the beach. It then expanded to Pinecrest, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne — and eventually 10 municipalities. 

At first, the cars were supported by advertising. Freebee offers vehicle wraps, in-car video, and drivers who will hype brands or events. 

Miami-Dade County charges a half-percent sales tax that is dedicated to transportation, which generates nearly $300M per year, as the Miami Herald reported. In December, the county made those dollars available for “on-demand” transportation services. In turn, "almost every municipality" wanted to talk to Freebee, partner Jason Spiegel told the Herald. Uber could also potentially get in on offering services paid for with the county tax. 

Miami Beach's pilot program with Freebee will serve the Middle Beach area, from about 19th Street to 69th Street. The idea is to provide door-to-door transportation to areas underserved by the city’s trolley and county transit service. The pilot program will run through Sept. 30. 

The Freebees in Miami Beach will operate from 6:30 a.m. (8:30 on Sundays) to 10 p.m. Users can download a smartphone app, call to arrange a ride or simply hail a passing Freebee.