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CRA to discuss fate of downtown trolley Tuesday

By Staff | Sep 19, 2009

As riders use the trolley system to navigate through tonight’s International Beer Festival, the event could mark the last time the system is used regularly in the downtown corridor.
Community Redevelopment Agency board members will decide on Tuesday whether to extend the trolley’s life, or to direct the funds required to operate the trolley to other programs.
The board is hoping a large number of citizens turn out to provide input on the trolleys, which have been met with mixed opinions during trial runs.
“It will help the board make a decision,” CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen said of the hoped-for public input. “Like every other public entity we have a budget and limited funds and we’re trying to expend the funds in a way that will be most beneficial.”
The trolley system has been operating for five months in downtown Cape Coral.
Originally set at three-month trial run, the trolley was extended in July for an additional two months.
The cost for the five-month period was roughly $123,000, with 7,289 riders using the system over a 42-day period, as the trolleys only run on Fridays and Saturdays.
CRA Chairman Jason Tramonte said the board plans to weigh both public comment and finances when it comes to the future of the trolley.
He anticipates hearing from not only business owners in the CRA but also people who use the trolley on a regular basis.
Tramonte wondered if the public’s perception of the trolley might be solely linked with bar hopping.
“A lot of people equate it to going from bar to bar,” he said. “But we can’t just a run a trolley for people to go bar to bar, that’s not why we did it. We wanted to give everyone a chance to go places in the CRA.”
Operating cost versus revenue could spell the trolley’s true future. Since the trolley is free, all revenue would come from advertising dollars.
Board member Frank Dethlefsen said the board needs to study potential advertising both inside and out on the trolley.
Dethlefsen added he and his wife ride the trolley at least twice a month, and public response that he’s experienced has so far been positive.
“I like what it’s done, but is the timing of it correct? That’s what we’re looking for,” Dethlefsen said.
The Community Redevelopment Agency’s monthly meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m., at 231 Cape Coral Parkway. For more information call 549-5615.