Make us your home page
Instagram

Jolley Trolley may venture from beach to downtown Clearwater, Dunedin

DUNEDIN — The Clearwater Beach Jolley Trolley, which was nearly bankrupted last year by budget cuts, could soon see new life on the mainland.

Transit planners have pushed to expand the Trolley's beachside loop into the downtowns of Clearwater and Dunedin, with hopes it could lead tourists to sights and shops further inland. The new route could expand by Thanksgiving, just in time for snowbird season.

The Trolley, a fleet of nine open-air shuttles painted red and yellow and slathered in ads, runs a beachgoer-friendly loop from Bay Park on Sand Key to the Palm Pavilion on Bay Esplanade on Clearwater Beach.

The new one-hour route would cross the Memorial Causeway, ride through downtown Clearwater onto Edgewater Drive and loop through downtown Dunedin.

"I think it's a real win for north county," said Julie Ward Bujalski, a Dunedin commissioner and board member for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, or PSTA. "Businesses are hurting, and whatever we can try to do to bring people into our communities is a good thing."

The obstacle now is cash. The not-for-profit Trolley balances its budget with fare-box revenues, bus-side advertising, charters for weddings and private parties, and subsidies from Clearwater and the PSTA. To run the Trolley on the mainland as planners hope — Fridays through Sundays, from 10 a.m. to midnight — the expanded route would cost another $150,000 a year.

Trolley fares are $1.75 a ride, $4 a day or $20 a week, and Trolley riders can use their passes on county buses as well. But fare revenue covers only a small sliver of the Trolley's gas, insurance and employment bills, which leaves a large chunk dependent on external funding.

Trolley executive director Bob Longenecker said the new route has already begun to collect commitments. The Clearwater Downtown Development Board pledged $16,000 a year. The PSTA could add on another $50,000 to $100,000, said executive director Tim Garling. The Dunedin commission could soon vote to deposit its own share, Bujalski said. If other cities opt in, or if planners win any federal or state transportation grants, the expansion would be more than fully funded.

The idea of the expanded route, Bujalski said, launched two years ago from downtown Dunedin business leaders who were looking for a way to funnel visitors and vacationers closer to home. Representatives from Dunedin and Clearwater merchant groups and chambers of commerce climbed quickly onboard expanding the Trolley, pushing the added bonus that drivers could guide curious tourists toward local businesses.

"The drivers are like their own little mini-concierges," Bujalski said.

The Trolley, which relied heavily on Clearwater's $150,000 subsidy, faced closure last year during the city's tight budget talks. The PSTA stepped in with a large pledge that was matched by Clearwater and renewed this week for $134,000.

Planners say if all goes well, the Trolley could find its way headed to Honeymoon Island, Palm Harbor or the sponge docks and antique district of Tarpon Springs. Mark Lecouris, the city manager of Tarpon Springs, said the city would consider pitching in for the project if it proved worth the cost.

Planners say public transit ridership has boomed in recent months. More than 1 million commuters ride a county bus each month, a 7 percent growth over last fiscal year, Garling said. The Trolley, Longenecker said, is on course to carry 140,000 passengers this fiscal year — more than double last year's ridership.

"It looks pretty promising," Longenecker said. "Our next step is waiting on secured funding ... and then we're ready to roll."

Contact Drew Harwell at dharwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Jolley Trolley may venture from beach to downtown Clearwater, Dunedin 08/26/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 30, 2010 11:48am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: Amid a record turnout, regional technology group spotlights successes, desire to do more

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — They came. They saw. They celebrated Tampa Bay's tech momentum.

    A record turnout event by the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, held May 24 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, featured a panel of area tech executives talking about the challenges encountered during their respective mergers and acquisitions. Show, from left to right, are: Gerard Purcell, senior vice president of global IT integration at Tech Data Corp.; John Kuemmel, chief information officer at Triad Retail Media, and Chris Cate, chief operating officer at Valpak. [Robert Trigaux, Times]
  2. Take 2: Some fear Tampa Bay Next transportation plan is TBX redux

    Transportation

    TAMPA — For many, Wednesday's regional transportation meeting was a dose of deja vu.

    The Florida Department of Transportation on Monday announced that it was renaming its controversial Tampa Bay Express plan, also known as TBX. The plan will now be known as Tampa Bay Next, or TBN. But the plan remains the same: spend $60 billion to add 90 miles of toll roads to bay area interstates that are currently free of tolls. [Florida Department of Transportation]
  3. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals

    Business

    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating high school, Andrew Kashella, in between jobs, knew what he had to do.

    A sign on a front window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales, 37517 Us Highway 19 N, in Palm Harbor, notifies people they are under restructuring  The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office has received 20 complaints against Gulf Coast Boat Sales in Palm Harbor. Complainants say they sold the shop their boats and never got paid and/or paid for boats they never received. Pinellas County Consumer Protection is leading the investigation.
  4. To catch a poacher: Florida wildlife officers set up undercover gator farm sting

    Wildlife

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, state wildlife officers created the ultimate undercover operation.

    To catch a ring of poachers who targeted Florida's million-dollar alligator farming industry, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission set up an undercover operation. They created their own alligator farm, complete with plenty of real, live alligators, watched over by real, live undercover wildlife officers. It also had hidden video cameras to record everything that happened. That was two years ago, and on Wednesday wildlife officers announced that they arrested nine people on  44 felony charges alleging they broke wildlife laws governing alligator harvesting, transporting eggs and hatchlings across state lines, dealing in stolen property, falsifying records, racketeering and conspiracy. The wildlife commission released these photos of alligators, eggs and hatchlings taken during the undercover operation. [Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission]
  5. CBO analysis: 23 million would lose health coverage under House-passed bill

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Republican health care bill that passed the House earlier this month would nearly double the number of Americans without health insurance over the next decade, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    Demonstrators protests the passage of a House Republican health care bill, outside the the Capitol in Washington, on May 4. The House took the unusual step of voting on the American Health Care Act before the Congressional Budget Office could assess it. That analysis was released Thursday and it showed the bill would cause 23 million fewer people to have health insurance by 2026. Many additional consumers would see skimpier health coverage and higher deductibles, the budget office projected.