Monday, February 4, 2008

EDITORIAL: Free and frequent trolley bus service

According to the Red Rose Transit Authority, the trolley buses currently carry 34,800 passengers annually at a fare of $1.35 per passenger. That amounts to revenue of $46,980 a year.

The proposed rail trolley service is estimated to cost taxpayers (through government grants) $14 million initially and $300,000 a year in operating subsidies thereafter.

For only $46,980 a year, Red Rose could provide free service and thus greatly enhance ridership of the trolley buses. Even assuming Red Rose is losing money on the trolley buses, it could afford probably to double or even triple the frequency of service for the $300,000 that it would cost to subsidize rail trolleys.

Now, which make better sense --- Rail trolleys clogging the streets that cost $1.35 or more per rider or free bus trolleys that create no special traffic problems?

NewsLanc recommends tripling the frequency of the current trolley buses and a loop as far north as the Amtrak Station and as far south as Water Street Mission.

This would encourage people to visit or live in town by enabling them to get around conveniently and without concern for cost.