Downtown ridership drops after trolleys stop running
By Andrew Douglas
Published: Jun. 19, 2014 at 3:00 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 19, 2014 at 8:34 PM CDT
(WMC) - It has been one week since hybrid electric buses replaced trolleys in Downtown Memphis, and in that time the number of people riding those routes has dropped more than 50 percent.
Two trolley fires that happened just six months apart forced Memphis Area Transit Authority to shut down the trolleys for the first time in two decades.
"Choices include a complete renovation of the existing fleet," Tom Fox, Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) said. "A new fleet of heritage trolleys and retrofitting them, much like the work done 21 years ago, or updating to a newer more modern system of vehicles."
Since then, green hybrid buses have taken over the trolley routes. The buses make the same stops and the same times, but they are not carrying the same number of passengers.
"It's probably been slightly over 50 percent loss of riders," MATA spokesperson Alison Burton said.
Even though the cost and time frames to ride MATA are the same downtown, more than half of those riders are gone in a week's time during the summer, when ridership is usually at its highest.
Confusion may be contributing to the problem. The new buses cannot drive on the Main Street mall or stop at the mall's trolley stops, but the buses will stop everywhere else on the same schedule, with a slight modification to the route.