Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Beach Gets Trolley Funding Rolling; Details Being Worked out to Restart Service Popular Last Summer

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jacksonville Beach Gets Trolley Funding Rolling; Details Being Worked out to Restart Service Popular Last Summer

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

JACKSONVILLE BEACH - The Beaches Trolley got its first government funding this week, but a task force is still ironing out details such as the route, when it should start and how customers get passes.

On Tuesday, the Jacksonville Beach City Council approved spending $7,500 to support the trolley, a transit system that was popular with thousands of riders last summer.

The trolley was a pilot project to reduce traffic on Florida A1A, alleviate parking shortages and boost business. The free weekend service transported about 33,000 people around the Beaches from June 27 to Aug. 31, about three times as many riders as the Jacksonville Transportation Authority had expected.

A majority of the riders surveyed, 84 percent, said they would be willing to pay 50 cents or more to ride the trolley.

The questions now are when the trolley will start up again, how much to charge customers and how they can buy or receive passes. A task force of elected officials, businesspeople and trolley advocates has been meeting the past several months to hammer out the funding, scheduling and route to bring the trolley back this summer.

The Beaches Trolley is projected to cost about $170,000, said Rick Knight, a Beaches Trolley task force member and Jacksonville Beach councilman.

While the service was free last summer, riders now will be asked to pay a small fee, probably 50 cents to a dollar.

Knight said the task force is considering whether to use seasonal, monthly or daily passes and where they might be purchased.

"We don't want people dropping quarters in a box," he said.

Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham, who represents the Beaches and pushed to get the trolley, told the Jacksonville Beach City Council Tuesday that he hopes the service will start in early April rather than late June, as it did last year.

"I think you're missing a great opportunity if you miss those three weekends," Graham said, referring to the crowds of visitors and residents at annual events such as the Beaches parade and George's Springing the Blues Festival.

The Beaches Trolley task force is also considering expanding the route so the trolleys run farther west to serve businesses and customers along Atlantic Boulevard. …

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