Monday, 25 May 2009 22:58

Jolley Trolley on Clearwater Beach Has Hope in New Management

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The Jolley Trolley does its rounds on Clearwater Beach.Clearwater Beach, FL -- The fate of the Jolley Trolley could be in limbo, but newly-named Executive Director of the service, Bob Longenecker, has dedicated himself to saving Clearwater Beach’s familiar yellow and red trademark.

The city of Clearwater is in the tough position this year of having to make budget cuts, meaning the Jolley Trolley is likely to lose some or all of its funding. Longenecker says that the trolley could possibly take up to a $20,000 budget cut, however if the trolley loses all of its funding, it is likely to go under. “If the city funding gets cut too dramatically, too fast, we don’t see how we can be viable,” Longenecker says. Currently, for every dollar of revenue the trolley receives, $0.30 comes from city funding. The rest comes from fares, charters and advertising. Longenecker predicts that in the future, the trolley will require less subsidized funding from the city, but it is not there yet at the moment. 

When appointed on April 1st, Longenecker immediately rolled up his sleeves and focused his efforts on improving the service. Within six weeks, he evaluated the trolley’s current operations, by conducting surveys of the public and businesses. He partnered with local businesses to sell advertising on the Jolley Trolley, created a website for the service, extended the office hours and made plans for an annual trolley pass. The Jolley Trolley, which costs $2 per ride, $1 for seniors and children ages 4-12, currently offers a day pass for $6. Children three and under are free. In September, the trolley will unveil an annual pass, to sell in the $300-$400 range. Patrons will also be able to present their pass for discounts at local restaurants and shops.

Longenecker believes the trolley is a necessity in Clearwater Beach. “Clearwater Beach cannot lose any more tourist amenities,” says Longenecker. “The Jolley Trolley is one of the tourist amenities that make Clearwater Beach what it is.”

It gives the area a certain charm and ambiance. Having a mode of transportation for visitors to get around provides tourists with a variety of activities to do, letting them get out and explore instead of being limited to the area near their hotel. “These people need variety or they won’t be back next year,” says Longenecker.

The Jolley Trolley also benefits locals. Having the trolley on the beach reduces the need for people to bring their cars, easing congestions in the area and making it easier to find parking.

In the future, Longenecker would like to see the trolley’s downtown loop reinstated. Previous funding cuts forced the cancelation of the loop, but if it were brought back, the downtown area and the merchants would be more accessible to tourists visiting the beach, no doubt benefiting the economic growth of both sections of the city. It would also reduce automobile traffic going to the beach, further alleviating the congestion that can swell during weekends and holidays, as well as the convenience of easy parking downtown and a trolley ride to the beach could be enticing to local residents seeking to avoid the hassles of beach parking.

The Jolley Trolley runs from North Clearwater Beach to Island Estates to South Clearwater Beach. It is also available for weddings.

Read 1480 times Last modified on Monday, 15 June 2009 12:10

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