The Del Ray/Arlandria Trolley project, which made a bumpy ride through City Hall in 2012, appears to be off the tracks.
With the city facing a $31 million budget shortfall, City Manager Rashad Young is recommending abandoning the project and its $700,000 price tag in his budget proposal for fiscal year 2014. The pilot project was to be funded with money set aside for transportation projects in the city.
The project was subject to plenty of scrutiny from lawmakers, business owners and citizens, who debated how far north into Arlandria the route would travel and later what other neighborhoods it would traverse.
Once a route was finally settled, an initial request for contractors to operate the line yielded no bids. A second request did yield bids, but Young said they came in three times higher than expected. DASH also suggested lending a hand by providing shrink-wrapped buses.
“We are disappointed,” said Mellenie Runion, president of the Del Ray Business Association. “We had it in the works and now we’re curbing it. Where did it all go? We’ve been asking for pedestrian lighting on Mount Vernon for 15 years. Where is it?”
Kevin Beekman of the Arlandria Action Plan Advisory Group said he is disappointed, but “we don’t want it if it’s not done right.”
Runion, who owns a home-based business specializing in handmade organic soaps and other products called Truly-Life, said she would like to have “some sort of green transportation” connecting Old Town with Mount Vernon Avenue. She mentioned pedicabs, which had been a popular amenity at First Thursday street festivals in the past. She also suggested something similar to the Savannah Slow Ride bikes that carry 15 pedaling passengers at once for tours of Savannah, Ga.
Young’s proposal does include expanding Capitol Bikeshare to other parts of the city, possibly Del Ray. Runion likes the idea of expanding bikeshare but doesn’t think it solves the issues.
“It’s about moving visitors in a fast way,” Runion said. “Obviously it’s going to be harder to move an older person or a group of five on bikeshare. It’s a mass transit issue, and I don’t think we all need to look like Old Town.”
Would you like to see a trolley serving Del Ray and Arlandria? Or would you prefer an alternative? Or nothing at all? Tell us in the comments and take our poll.