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Publix tests a free shuttle service

The retailer is co-sponsoring a transit trial in Decatur, Ga., following the closing of a Kroger store

Officials in Decatur, Ga., are responding to the closing in December of a smaller footprint downtown Kroger store by providing free electric shuttles that transport shoppers to a new Publix supermarket.

During the three-month experiment, which will run until April 18, the shuttle will stop at several downtown pick-up points near many multifamily residences before transporting users about two miles to the Publix store. The service is intended to provide an easy transportation option for seniors who are less likely to own vehicles, but it is open to the public, according to published reports.

The Decatur Downtown Development Authority and Publix are co-sponsoring the program which uses two vehicles that seat three to four persons. The shuttles are running continuously from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and users also can go online to request rides on-demand. 

Let’s Ride Atlanta is operating the shuttles, and the initiative is similar to the free rides program of one to three miles that it provides in Atlanta. 

Kroger closed its “Baby Kroger” store on December 2 because of what the company said were declining sales and negative profit over an extended period. Measuring less than 15,000 square feet, the outlet was Kroger’s smallest store in the Atlanta market and had two years left on the lease.

The Decatur store, which Kroger had been operating for 21 years, opened in 1968 as a Colonial grocery and eventually carried the A&P and Harris Teeter banners. Kroger had previously closed small format stores in Atlanta. 

Kroger in December also shuttered its “Disco Kroger” store in Atlanta after 47 years. The outlet, with a disco ball inside and a disco mural on the side of the building, is reportedly set to be demolished and rebuilt as a new Publix store.

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