Downtown Trolleys - Gone for how long?

Downtown trolleys, the ones that circle downtown and run along the riverfront, have been sent to the barn, replaced, at least temporarily, by big green buses. Fires on the Madison Ave. line have MATA examining the problem and promising to repair or replace the trolley cars over the next 3 to 6 months. 

The trolley cars were never known for speed or on-time reliability, and the new big green buses are air conditioned. But the buses are out-of-scale for our historic downtown. And charm? Well, they haven't any.

Thanks to State Representative Barbara Cooper, a public meeting was held Monday, July 14 to discuss when and if the trolleys will run again. MATA representatives were there to answer questions. 

If you missed the meeting, here's a quick recap and links for more information and email address for your input.  

MATA reps said that a feasibility study is underway to determine the "best and most cost effective long-term solution." 

Experts are considering options to: 

  1. complete renovation of the existing fleet, (est. cost $6M/$400,000 per car)
  2. purchase a new fleet of heritage trolleys and retrofitting them much like the original work done 21 years ago (est. cost $10.5M/$700,000 per car),
  3. upgrade to a newer more modern system of vehicles." (est. cost $2.5M per car)

Citizens asked about evaluation criteria and said it should include an all-encompassing consideration of effect on downtown and its businesses. They were told that the process and criteria are set by federal policy.

The big green buses were not seen as a viable alternative by the public. It was also pointed out that the Mall cannot accommodate cars or buses, but that more of them have been driving on tMall since the trolleys have been out-of-service.

Costs, repair parts, and trained workmen are some of problems in continuing to run vintage trolleys.

Citizens were referred to the MATA website for information and told to email comments to:

Ryan Poe at the Memphis Business Journal reported on the trolleys and replacement costs. Click, HERE.