News Column

Trolleys to aid city with tourism

July 21, 2014

By Leah Small, The Progress-Index, Petersburg, Va.



July 21--PETERSBURG -- Four shiny red trolleys will soon be cruising streets in a joint effort by Petersburg Area Transit and the National Park Service to promote tourism in the city.

Three trolleys will be used to tour city historic sites, starting at Southside Depot and ending at the Petersburg National Battlefield. One trolley will be used to shuttle riders during Friday for the Arts!

Two federal grants totalling $746,000 will go toward building the trolleys from scratch and paying for the first year of operation.

Dironna Moore Belton, manager of PAT, said the effort was a step toward bringing visitors at Petersburg National Battlefield, and other attractions, into the city.

"It's a chance to get people from the national parks to come to the city to see that it exists and see that it's a thriving community," Belton said.

National Park Service guides will give riders an interpretation of the historical significance of sites such as Blandford Cemetery and the Southside Depot, along the routes of three of the trolleys. The historical routes will operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The city got a jump start on the project when it rented a trolley in June to run the Friday For the Arts! route. The shuttle picks up riders from the parking lot of the Petersburg Public Library, which is located on West Washington Street, and takes to stops in Old Towne Petersburg from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The rented trolley will be replaced once the city receives the new trolleys.

Belton said she is working on submitting a request for proposals for the assembly of the 34-seat vehicles within the next month. The city is working out details, such as requesting an open back and diesel engines.

Belton worked to obtain funding for the project at the direction of City Manager William E. Johnson III.

The funding, which was received in March, comes from Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. Belton said during the first year of operation, the city won't charge any fare because operating expenses will be covered through the grants.

The city is required to use a company based in the United States to assemble the trolleys because the project is being done with the help of an FTA grant.

A manager will be hired to oversee the trolley routes, along with one part-time and three full-time drivers. In the future, Belton said, the city could consider charging a fare or renting the trolleys out for weddings and other events.

- Leah Small may be reached at 722-5172 or lsmall@progress-index.com.

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(c)2014 The Progress-Index (Petersburg, Va.)

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Source: Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA)


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