Trolleys pass another test; Downtown return nears

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's been a little more than three years since city officials were prompted to shut down trolley service after multiple fires.

On Thursday, operators performed the first daytime test of the brand-new trolley service coming to the Bluff City, a key step for the trolleys' return.

Operators also gave a timetable on their return and what riders and the city as a whole can expect.

"This is a brand-new trolley for the city of Memphis," said Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen. "This is important, the ability for people to get around, the ability for people to move up and down Main Street especially tourists, other people rely on that."

MATA performed another trolley test, this time in the daylight, making sure the new system will work when they give it the green light.

"We're excited that it was a successful test today," McGowen said.

The goal is for these trolleys to affect much more than just transportation.

"Because we do know that it impacts our economy in Downtown Memphis," McGowen said.

"Every trolley that we will run in the system will go through the same series of tests," said Gary Rosenfeld, Interim Chief Executive Officer MATA.

That means a total of six trolleys: four that will continuously run on Main Street and two alternates running on a 500 foot stretch of track. There are more tests to be done as well.

"We load them up with sandbags to represent passengers and get the weight of the vehicle up to its operating weight," Rosenfeld said.

MATA said it will be important that everyone downtown keeps an eye out for trolleys, because even if you listen, they're pretty quiet.

"Make sure that anytime they are near a trolley track that they are keeping an eye out for a trolley that could be coming from behind them or could be coming from in front of them," Rosenfeld said.

In only a few more months, trolleys will be running non-stop up and down Main Street. MATA said you can expect them before the start of 2018.

"I can't wait to be on one next time it goes," McGowen said.

MATA said after Main Street is up and running, the company will add trolleys to the Riverfront line and then Madison Street. That should happen in the next year or two.

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