by Sam Hieb
The city was rightly optimistic when it began using them in 1988, thinking their appearance would make them appealing to riders. But even with the private funding support and a plan to use them for free lunchtime transportation, they were never popular enough to justify the cost of running them. They lost money pretty much every time they ran. They were criticized for often being empty and eventually became a joke.
So in 2014 when Councilman Robert Clark said, “I think that it is time to get rid of the West End Trolley,” nobody argued with him.
They weren’t a total failure. A year ago, Preserve Historic Forsyth used one of the trolley buses for a series of sold-out tours that went through 20 of the city’s historic areas. Maybe they just need the right context.
So selling them is a good idea, especially to a tourism outfit that thinks it can make a profit with them.
We hope to eventually see them on the streets again, full of people.
And —of course— “just because one public transportation effort didn’t work out doesn’t mean that all such efforts should be abandoned.” Government will never abandon the effort to push public transportation, even if grand plans for the former Union Station on MLK Drive as a public transportation hub appear to have stalled.