In three weeks, it will have been one year since the Main Street trolley line has been revived, and the head of the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) said it's met nearly all expectations so far.
President and CEO of MATA, Gary Rosenfeld said since the steel-wheel trolleys returned to the tracks after a four-year absence, there have been no real issues with the line. The five-car system has been running “smoothly” — other than one trolley car that hasn’t been able to be revived and put into service yet, he said.
“All and all the system is running pretty well for what we’ve been through,” he said. “It’s setting the stage for future successful years of service.”
The main issue is keeping those using the trolleys and those around it safe, Rosenfeld said. One precaution he advises pedestrians on the Main Street Mall to take is to avoid wearing headphones while walking near the trolley tracks: “We want everybody to be safe.”
There are red and white signs on the Mall instructing pedestrians to yield for the trolleys.
Ridership has been as expected, Rosenfeld said.There have been approximately 372,000 boardings since the service was reinstated on April 30th of last year.
Rosenfeld said that number is in the “range of expectation,” and that he anticipates it rising in the summer months.
“We’ve certainly had respectable ridership,” Rosenfeld said. “It’s demonstration that the Main Street line is viable and that more lines will be viable in the future. The community has accepted the trolleys.”
As for the future, Rosenfeld said the goal is to bring back the Madison and Riverfront lines at some point. However, he said MATA has had trouble securing a vendor for trolley parts. That’s a “critical point in the flow chart,” Rosenfeld said.
“Until we get passed that critical point in flow chart, we’re not going to go one way or another,” Rosenfeld said. “The cars have to be refurbished or we’ll find some other method.The critical issue with the trolleys since the beginning of the recertification process has been safety.
“We’re not willing to compromise safety and we’re not going to sign a contract for the sake of signing a contract.”