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monsoon

Charlotte's Historic Trolley

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CATS has buried in their latest ridership report that only 315 people rode the historic trolley for the entire month of December. This is the same $40M Trolley that used to run on the path of the current South LRT. After Lynx opened, Tober moved to head up the project to put the trolley cars back into service. They run on the same tracks as the LRT but stop at different stations.

315 people for an entire month seems like a huge waste of time effort and money for an organization that says it doesn't have enough money to do what it says it wants to do. Why are they still running this thing? I think they should sell off those new trains they purchased and put this thing out of its misery. The money could go to something more useful.

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Or atleast shift its operations. Build the streetcar segment from JCSmith to Elizabeth for

$150m (probably less if they used the existing street cars).

Edit: And even cheaper if they don't run the caternary wires.

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CATS has buried in their latest ridership report that only 315 people rode the historic trolley for the entire month of December. This is the same $40M Trolley that used to run on the path of the current South LRT. After Lynx opened, Tober moved to head up the project to put the trolley cars back into service. They run on the same tracks as the LRT but stop at different stations.

315 people for an entire month seems like a huge waste of time effort and money for an organization that says it doesn't have enough money to do what it says it wants to do. Why are they still running this thing? I think they should sell off those new trains they purchased and put this thing out of its misery. The money could go to something more useful.

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$40 million for a trolley? :blink: No wonder these cities are going broke and want a bailout. <_< I find trolleys to be more of a novelty and tourist trap rather than a form of mass transit.

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Maybe convince Tober to move his operations to Elizabeth, and Grubb to build him a barn. Of course, you'd have to expand the project a little to give the streetcar ways to turn around that don't conflict with mixed traffic. By the way, I've enjoyed watching Charlotteans drive the newly opened section very slowly, likely wondering if they're even supposed to be driving on embedded tracks.

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part of the $40 million was for upgrades that are also used by light rail. Still, everyone including Tober, knew that it was a lot of money to spend on something relatively short term and that the light rail would eventually kick the trolley to the side. South End businesses have built their brand around the trolley and expect it to remain there so as usual its a political issue.

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The trolleys running today were 3 brand new carriages built by Gomaco Trolley Company in Iowa. They were built between 2003-2005. If they can't figure out how to use these vehicles to provide service elsewhere, I would recommend they just sell them to another city.

The antique vintage trolleys, are no longer operated.

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...more of a novelty and tourist trap rather than a form of mass transit.

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It's been mentioned several times in other threads the idea of running these on Trade/Elizabeth until the city can afford to full build a streetcar line. The obvious issue is the need for a trolley "barn" that can be accessed by this line, though presumably they will have to build one for the first phase of the street-car, so it could be completed for the Trolley.

The fact that trolleys actually historically did run on Elizabeth and never ran along the current south LRT route is further justification that the operations should be shifted, to provide the more authentic historic Charlotte trolley ride.

This plan clearly makes too much sense for CATS to consider.

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Past streetcar studies identified vehicle maitenance facility (VMF) sites at either just north of JCSU along Brookshire off Beatties Ford or next to Barnhardt Manufacturing in Plaza-Midwood (though arguably the latter is one of the best sites for dense development that would come with streetcar). The Elizabeth streetscape project only runs between Kings Drive and Hawthorne Lane. If this section were just a very small demonstration project using the Trolley Company's heritage replica vehicles, I imagine a "trolley barn" could be built on any of the vacant land Grubb has assembled. A true VMF for modern streetcars could always be built later when the line is expanded. Best of all, the trolleys could actually keep running after lengthening the line and adding modern vehicles, similar to mixed fleet found in San Francisco or New Orleans.

Of course, running from Kings Drive to Hawthorne Lane doesn't seem long enough to have any riders. I wonder then what would be the minimum section that would actually fill the trolleys. I imagine the bare minimum is CTC to Presby to have good ridership, acting as a shuttle from CTC and LYNX to the Government Center, CPCC, and Presbyterian. If that could work with Tober's trolleys and a small barn on Grubb's land, Uptown and Elizabeth could easily afford to foot the bill for a starter line without any tapping of the County sales tax.

For CTC-Presby, you'd only have to extend the completed tracks east by just over one block more to the temporary pocket track that was designed for Phase-I in the System Plan on 5th Street immediately east of Hawthorne. Obviously, the more extensive construction required would be west of Kings Drive to CTC/Arena. Luckily, the design for the CTC/Arena streetcar stop was a median station that could be initially built as a single pocket track. Since the design was for mixed traffic, I could see building the westbound track only at CTC/Arena in an exclusive travel lane, effectively reducing westbound Trade Street west of Brevard to one through lane, since the eastbound lanes are more heavily used by CATS buses.

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Re: the $40M cost, that represented all of the costs of developing the rail line for the trolley- including buying the land, building the track bed, etc.- so a big part of that $40 million would have had to be spent anyway for LYNX construction.

Personally, I don't see the point in having the heritage trolley on the route it takes anymore, since light rail is enough of a novelty for so many people anyway.

I'd assume that there are safety requirements that would prevent it from being run on an active freight rail line, but I'd think that running it up the future commuter rail track up towards Cornelius (using a diesel engine, if that's possible) would be a good way to build excitement or help pave the way for other lines to get rail service, just like the original trolley helped prepare for LYNX.

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^These trolleys require an electrified catenary but this doesn't exist on the North CR line. It would be prohibitively expensive to run it I would think. They could add the diesel powered generator car that gets pulled behind the trolley, but I don't know if one of these cars could generate enough power to propel these trolleys fast enough for a 50 mile round trip.

The bigger issue and the reason that we don't see the North CR line in operation now is the track itself is not safe for passenger use. The tracks in many places are passing 70 years in age and there is also something like 150+ (don't remember the exact number) grade crossings. Every single one of those crossings has to be brought up to standards before they can start passenger service on this line.

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