Does St. Augustine need more horse drawn carriages? | News
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Are there enough horse drawn carriages in St. Augustine?
That's the question facing city leaders and tourism experts.
As it stands now, only half of the available permits for carriages have been issued by the City of St. Augustine. There is a debate over whether there needs to be more permits issued.
Roosevelt – or Rosee – Upshaw has been driving horse drawn carriages a long time in St. Augustine.
He chuckled, "I'll round it off at 30 years!"
Upshaw, with his feathered hat, is a staple on the streets of St. Augustine, just like the horses and carriages.
"Carriages are an iconic experience for folks visiting St. Augustine. It's part of our marketing and our promise to visitors," Richard Goldman said. He is the Executive Director of the St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra, and the Beaches Visitors and Convention Bureau. He said hotels and B&B owners tell him it's harder to get a carriage during busy times.
"We've noticed the lines for visitors to use the carriages have gotten longer and the waits have gotten longer," Golden explained.
About a year ago, the company which held half of the 30 carriage permits available went out of business. Goldman and others are asking city commissioners to release those 15 permits to other carriage companies and drivers in order to meet the demand.
However, Upshaw and another carriage company say while customers do have to wait during busy times such as Nights of Lights, overall there aren't enough customers to support 15 more permits.
Upshaw asked, "What good is more buggies out here when there's not the business for them?"
City Attorney Ron Brown said, as of last week, applications were submitted for 13 of the 15 available permits. The city commission is expected to consider the applications for those horse and carriage permits on June 23rd.
Roosevelt wrapped up by saying, "It's up to the city to put them out if they want to. If they do, they should give [the permits] to people that deserve them."
As for Upshaw, he'll still don his feathered cap and drive the streets of St. Augustine… extra permits or not.