Trolley rollout delayed until April 2018

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - MATA announced the rollout of the trolley system scheduled for the end of 2017 has been delayed until April 2018.

The rollout delay is a result of delays by the refurbishment vendor in charge of making the 100-year-old trolleys operate safely after the discovery of wood rot.

"The only thing that we're behind on is things we don't have full control over," MATA CEO Gary Rosenfield said.

MATA said safety is the number one priority for bringing the trolleys back to operation. The agency said it would not bring the trolleys back if there was any chance they could be a danger to anyone

"You have to be make sure it meets current safety standards," Rosenfield said.

MATA said it has completed all of its requirements on time, but only three of the six trolley cars needed to restart passenger service are fully refurbished.

Crews discovered rotten wood on the trolley body that requires a rebuilt frame. The damage was more severe than anticipated.

MATA showed off some of the damage the trolleys had prior to refurbishing:

"It is a cascading effect on when we're going to be able to start," Rosenfield said.

For months, MATA has been testing trolley lines in Downtown Memphis.

The trolley system was suspended in 2014 after multiple trolley cars caught fire.

MATA has been working all year to restart the program. The agency said tests in November revealed some areas of the track that need additional work.

There was also an issue with the overhead wire system that powers the cars.

"We have to do things and take necessary steps to ensure that when we start up, we don't stop," Rosenfield said.

All six trolley cars must be operational for the needed federal and state safety approvals and training of trolley conductors. Rosenfield said he hopes further delays won't be needed.

"I can appreciate the public's frustration," he said. "I'm just as frustrated, but my commitment was to bring them the safest program that we could possibly do."

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