Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort and the Downtown Association of Hot Springs have partnered to provide free shuttle service between the resort and downtown Hot Springs.
The first shuttle departs today at 10:45 a.m. from the Oaklawn valet area to Exchange Street Parking Plaza.
The shuttle runs between Oaklawn and Exchange Street on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The first shuttle leaves Oaklawn for Exchange Street at 10:45 a.m., then every quarter hour until 6:45 p.m. It departs from Exchange Street for Oaklawn every hour from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
“One thing we noticed was that Oaklawn hotel guests wanted to be able to enjoy downtown,” DAHS Chairman Alan Spraggins said. “And Oaklawn said since they built it, they really wanted to make Hot Springs the city, not just come to Oaklawn. So what we decided to do is offer this shuttle in the two senses so that it benefits both.”
Spraggins said downtown business owners he spoke with were supportive of the shuttle, noting they thought it would benefit downtown.
“(Tourists) come to the hotel and we can have them (downtown). It’s more business customers,” Spraggins said.
“They buy more, they spend more, that’s how we benefit.
“And with downtown parking, it’s a way that they don’t have to worry about driving, they don’t have to worry about parking, they go there,” he said. .
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DAHS contacted Oaklawn and discussed all regulations with the city after a downtown business noticed the need for a safe transportation option between downtown and Oaklawn, he said.
“At Christmas, a downtown business owner said there were guests downtown who wanted to go to Oaklawn, but they couldn’t find an Uber and they weren’t going to drink and drive to go to the casino and come back,” Spraggins said. “So that’s when we started thinking, ‘Well, how can we do something that benefits everyone?'”
Although the shuttle only runs on weekends for now, Spraggins said he hopes the schedule can eventually offer transit during the week.
“We feel like once people get the hang of it, it will start to grow,” Spraggins said. “We’ve never done this before, so we just have to tweak, change, expand.”
Signs advertising the shuttle carry a QR code, which leads to the DAHS website where Spraggins said more information about the shuttle will be available, including scheduled stop times and a map displaying stop locations.