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Memphians eagerly waiting for trolleys to return to the Madison and Riverfront lines

"It was wonderful, and all of a sudden it stopped,” said Gwen Campbell.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For many Memphians, the trolley systems is full of important memories. Back when her grandchildren were little, Gwen Campbell always took them traveling across the city on the trolley.

“When we would come down, we’d basically just go from place to place, the fire station to the different areas that they could see. It was very nice, they enjoyed it, they hung out on it, it was wonderful, and all of a sudden it stopped,” said Campbell.

Back in 2014 the trolley system was shutdown after two separate trolley cars caught on fire in the span of six months. MATA then began building a new system from the ground up. Back in 2018 MATA restarted service on Main Street, and has since continued efforts to get Riverfront and Madison back online as well.

In 2020 MATA bought three refurbished trolleys to help them accomplish that.  At the time MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld was hopeful of getting Riverfront online in 24 months around June 2022, depending on how testing went.

As for the Madison line, MATA began testing it in March this year for 45 days. MATA says however there are still tests happening continuing into the new year.

However, Memphians are still hopeful that once the lines are back up and running, it could help improve travel across downtown.

“I think people miss the one, particularly the one down Madison, because it gave them a base from that area, all the way downtown,” says Campbell.

“We moved here from Boston, got used to sort of walking around, and it can be nice, I can walk around downtown but it would be nice if the whole city kind of had that vibe to it,” says Jarrod Nelson, Memphis resident.

ABC24 reached out to MATA for a comment regarding the future of the trolley lines. In an statement they said “The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) is working tirelessly towards our comprehensive plan to restore and expand the trolley routes such as the Riverfront and Madison lines.  We are working diligently through extensive evaluations, processes, and testing to welcome the community on board once again our historic trolley lines.”

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