Free Owensboro trolley service begins this week

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By Steve Vied

The Messenger-Inquirer

Owensboro’s new, free downtown trolley service kicks off Tuesday, with members of the City Commission boarding the trolley at 4 p.m. for the inaugural loop along Second and Third streets between Crittenden and Walnut streets.

The City Commission will board the trolley at City Hall and tour the downtown route.

The trolley will continue to run until 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The regular, free trolley service will be offered Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight each day, making stops about every 20 minutes at several street intersections to load and unload passengers.

The downtown trolley will not run on Sunday.

The City Commission gave the go-ahead for free, downtown trolley service in January. The trolley will make a continuous loop going west on Second Street and east on Third Street, from Crittenden Street to Walnut Street, using those two north-south streets as connectors.

City officials said in January that the cost of downtown trolley service is estimated at $136,500 a year, with half paid for by federal transportation grants and the other half with city funds. The city purchased a new trolley in 2012 but has used it only sparingly. The trolley has been used for ceremonial purposes and special events since its arrival. The city uses larger standard transit buses on its regular daily routes.

In November, Rosemary Conder,  former chairwoman of We Are Downtown, said she wanted to see a trolley running through downtown, picking up guests at the Holiday Inn (under construction), the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Owensboro Convention Center and taking them to other parts of downtown.

Almost a year ago, the Corradino Group, which studied the Owensboro Transit Network, recommended a trolley to complement such downtown activities as Friday After 5.

The city’s newest trolley was purchased in the fall of 2012 with $226,542 from federal transportation grant funds.