Published: Dec 06, 2012 10:44 PM EST
Updated: Dec 06, 2012 11:11 PM EST

NAPLES, Fla - The Jump on Express (JOE) is officially up and running. The free shuttle service takes riders from downtown Naples to Mercato.

WINK News took a ride on the JOE to see how the service was running on its first night.

Ava Gardner, her daughter and granddaughter are some of the first riders on the Jump on Express.

"We decided it would be a great idea to come to Mercato and catch the bus and it will just be a lot easier and more convenient. It's a great idea and we're glad we did it," says Gardner.

The three of them went downtown to see the snow on Third Street and the Christmas festivities on Fifth Avenue. Rather than fighting the traffic and parking, they hopped on the JOE.

"We parked and got here about 6:45 and it's 7:00, the shuttle is here and we're on our way downtown," says Gardner.

On its inaugural night ridership was low, but the enthusiasm among riders was through the roof.

"Oh my gosh, this is perfect," exclaimed Rebeca Mcnamara, an Old Naples resident. "I mean how many people want to go out at night in Naples that are afraid to drink and drive, don't want to pay cab fair and this is the answer."

The idea behind the JOE is to make it easy to get from point A to point B, but also get people to explore both Old Naples and North Naples in the same night.

"I live on Third Street so it's perfect for me," says Justin Collins. "I can get from Fifth Avenue to Mercato, walk out the front door, go back and come back down to Third Street for desert and a nightcap."

And as word gets out, riders predict the seats will fill up quickly. "I know from now on a lot of us will be on this bus," says Mcnamara.

The JOE is free because local businesses are picking up the tab. The JOE makes stops at 5th Avenue, Third Street and Mercato every half hour.

For more information go to www.jumponexpress.com