Slow start for shuttle between Overton Square garage and Memphis Zoo

(Memphis) This is the first weekend for a free shuttle service between the Overton Square parking garage and the Memphis Zoo.

The shuttle is sponsored by the Overton Park Conservancy which wants the zoo to stop using a grassy area of the park for overflow parking.

The Overton Park Conservancy will be running two shuttles on 15 minute increments for the next five weeks, between the Overton Square parking garage and the zoo.

The shuttle will make stops also as Melissa McMasters with Overton Park Conservancy explained, “It will stop at the zoo first, the Brooks Museum of Art, and then the golf clubhouse in Overton Park.”

The shuttles will run on a five-week trial basis on Saturdays and Sundays, but that will not come cheap.

McMasters estimates the cost will be around $7,000 for the trial period.

The Overton Park Conservancy is footing that bill with the help of sponsors.

McMaster’s said the money is worth it, “What we’re really wanting is for people to be able to access the park, but also to get parking off the greensward.”

There has been a lot of controversy about the overflow parking, with many complaining about dusty conditions and grass being torn up by cars and foot traffic.

One shuttle rider, Michele Passeretti, said, “There have been events over there that I haven’t gone to because of the parking issues.”

Zoo officials said they would like to get parking off the grass also, but have a different idea on how to do it.

Laura Doty with the Memphis Zoo said, “We’d love a parking garage to get everybody to be able to come to the zoo and enjoy it.”

However, that would cost as much as $12 million.

For the shuttle service’s very first trip on Saturday morning, there was only one rider, plus a couple of conservancy volunteers between the two buses.

However, the conservancy is hopeful ridership will pick up.

“People really want to see something worked out,” McMasters said. “They want to see everyone play nicely and be good neighbors together. So they’re really excited about the shuttle solution.”

People will be allowed to park on the grassy area this weekend, because of Memorial Day.

They will also be allowed to park on it on Tuesday when the zoo is free.

Other than that, during the trial period, there will be no parking on the grassy area.

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