Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Around on a Trolley Bus

A lot of neighborhoods talk about creating a "circulator" transit service that brings people from their homes or workplaces into the shopping district. South Chicago Chamber of Commerce has done it.

Every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a break from 2:30 to 3:30), one of those buses-that-look-like-trollies runs a route in the old Steel City from 106th and Torrence up to 83rd Street via the Commercial Avenue shopping district, with stops conveniently located next to small businesses, from Exquisite Flowers to Mexico Auto Repair.

Rides are free until March 1, and then will cost just a quarter by way of a ticket booklet that can be bought from participating merchants. The chamber is financing the $138,000 project with funds from the local Special Service Area (a district that taxes property owners and uses the funds for needed services). The goal, says chamber executive director Neil Bosanko, is to keep retail dollars in the community.

Other neighborhoods will be interested in how things work out.

Read more on the Claretian web site. Below, a Google MyMaps shows the route.

View Larger Map


Patrick Barry said...

Neil Bosanko provided some updated info:

"In January our ridership numbers totaled 1,092. In February through the 15th we had 868 riders. We may double ridership in the two month period that we have been operating.

"We are now spotting the system to make sure that the ridership figures are indeed accurate and that the riders are shopping in the district...the intended purpose of this project! We have 15 locations selling books of the 25-cent tickets ($3.00 for 12). Ticket sales have been brisk and will be promoted in the Southeast Observer as well.

"We have just purchased our own streetcar this week and will be hiring three part- time drivers from the community that have CDL licenses. By March, we expect to operate this project in house (we are currently leasing it from Gray Tours of Chicago at a much higher cost)."

Thanks, Neil, for the update.

Mike Quinlan said...

Amazing story! Really has my mind jogging and thinking of all of the places i've seen trolleys (plural?) in different parts of the country. great job!

Anonymous said...

The trolley is so cool in South Chicago. Everytime I sit in a meeting and a trolley goes by everyone stops and screems out.
"Hey, There Goes The Trolley"!

Jackie Samuel

Joel Bookman said...

It's fitting that in the picture, the trolley is next to a "Welcome" banner. What a great way to make shoppers and residents feel welcome -- and make it easier to shop locally. Congratulations to Neil and the Chamber!

Maureen Kelleher said...

I saw Neil yesterday and got new ridership numbers: 1687 in February and 692 through March 15. I'm pretty sure I'll take a ride on it myself some time in the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

We actually have heard people singing a "There Goes The Trolley" song. Does anyone know who came up with it? It's really a hoot, and makes people so happy!