Monday, April 28, 2008

Trolley Buses for Ogden? No not those type of Trolley Buses

Yellow bus
Originally uploaded by Field of Light
According to the Weber County Forum, Mayor Godfrey is looking to purchase a couple of faux trolley buses to run as a downtown shuttle. These are not real trolley buses but are instead regular buses that are essentially a bus made somewhat to look like an old streetcar. For those who remember, UTA used to run a fleet of these around the Salt Lake area from 1981 until the late 1990's.

The only problem with this faux trolleys is that they generally are a waste of money. Its as the designers of these things actually think people will be fooled into thinking it was some type of old trolley.

To make matters worse these things are very uncomfortable to ride in which is why they are used only on shuttles and relatively short operations. The seats are made of wood although they do offer cushions to make the seats more comfortable.

The problem with these buses is they do not attract any more passengers than a standard bus. The Spokane Transit Authority uses these buses on their Arena Shuttle. As part of making Wall Street a pedestrian mall, the decision was made to use these faux trolleys. However, except for a few novelty riders, ridership remains static even when regular buses had to be substituted for the faux trolleys for an extended period of time.

The Faux Trolley is money better spent in other more important transportation endeavors.


Silus Grok said...

So what would you say are the salient differences between a faux trolley and those street cars you're so fond of?

JMD said...

REAL streetcars create new marketing dynamics. A perfect example is a town on the other side of that state we both used to live in called Tacoma.

For years Tacoma had a free bus shuttle from their so called downtown area to the Tacoma Dome. Ridership was nothing to write home about. A few years go the bus was replaced by a streetcar, a real streetcar line and ridership has boomed.

However, would have the faux trolleys attracted any additional riders?

Spokane is still talking about building a streetcar line that would largely replace the current Arena Shuttle and so we would have a direct comparison, but until that time all we can do is look at results from bus to streetcar and bus to faux trolley to make comparisons.