Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trolley Is Back, and Its Route Has Expanded; Another Change Is You'll Need Change; This Year, the Rides Cost 50 Cents

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Trolley Is Back, and Its Route Has Expanded; Another Change Is You'll Need Change; This Year, the Rides Cost 50 Cents

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

The Beaches Trolley, a public-private program to alleviate traffic and parking problems, was set to roll out Friday night without a lot of fanfare.

This year, the trolley will run farther south in Jacksonville Beach and farther west on Atlantic Boulevard than it did on last summer's maiden voyage. It will also cost some money. Customers, who got free rides last year, have to pay 50 cents and should carry exact change.

It's still a good deal considering the route covers more ground without affecting the 15-minute arrival schedule, said Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Rick Knight, a member of the trolley task force that worked to bring the service back.

"I'm tickled to death," Knight said. "It could not be a better situation for its second year."

Four trolleys will run through Sept. 7 on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays from South Beach Regional Shopping Center in South Jacksonville Beach to Atlantic Village Shopping Center in Atlantic Beach.

Riders who give the trolley driver $1 will not receive change but they'll get a voucher for a return ride, said Jacksonville Transportation Authority spokesman Mike Miller. For security reasons, drivers may not carry money or make change.

The trolley was a big success last summer, transporting about 33,000 people around the Beaches from late June to late August, about three times as many riders as expected. Meant to reduce traffic on Florida A1A, alleviate parking shortages and boost business, the trolley was free to riders last year because of a $100,000 grant from the JTA and about a dozen business sponsorships.

This year, the JTA expected the Beaches Trolley to raise its own money. The task force worked for months to collect public contributions and private sponsorships but struggled to gain adequate support due to the economic recession. When the Beaches Trolley came up about $140,000 short in operating funds, the JTA agreed to underwrite the project.

About 10,000 illustrated maps of the trolley's route and 100 businesses sponsors will be available at stores, hotels, restaurants and bars across the Beaches, said Kurtis Loftus, a Beaches Trolley task force member whose firm, the Kurtis Group, handled the marketing. …

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