Rubber-wheeled trolleys to replace buses on Main Street - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Rubber-wheeled trolleys to replace buses on Main Street

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

There is a new plan to bring trolleys back to Main Street, sort of. They'll run on rubber wheels instead of tracks.

"Trolleys were one of the reasons we pinpointed this area," Downtown Candle Company owner Eumora Reese said.

He said profits melted after two fires prompted MATA to mothball its entire trolley fleet last summer.

"Even trolley nights are not the same,” Reese said. “I mean, what are trolley nights with a bus?"

Big green buses have not helped get things back on track, even with their trolley-like sound.

"It slowly, over time, has killed the tourist businesses," Real2Reel art gallery owner David Bunk said.

The rubber-wheeled trolley solution pleased Downtown merchants.

MATA just bought eight of the trolleys for $1.2 million using insurance money from the burned up trolleys.

It's an idea some merchants said they suggested to MATA months ago.

"It will do for now,” Bunk said. “And when they're done with them they can move them to Midtown, but that would help bridge the gap until they get our trolleys going again.”

How soon all vintage trolleys will roll again remains anyone's guess. Some familiar with the retrofit and purchase of replacements said it could take as long as two years.

"We're told one thing, we're told something else the next week,” Reese said. “Now, it's like 'Stop talking about it and do it.'"

The new trolley buses should be in Memphis within the next five weeks. The green hybrid buses will then be moved to regular routes.

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