It’s not a mirage and your eyes aren’t deceiving you. A real trolley is rolling up and down Main Street in Memphis.
It is rare when 21st century people get excited over 19th century technology. That’s when trolleys first became electric, although these trolleys are jammed with the latest stuff, and safety is the top priority.
Gary Rosenfeld of the Memphis Area Transit Authority is almost like a proud papa talking about these “new” old fashioned looking trolleys.
“Our new trolleys are much, much quieter than our old ones,” he said. “It’s not like you’re going to hear them coming from six or seven blocks away.”
Those old trolleys were loud, and they had a tendency to catch fire. That’s why service stopped almost 4 years ago. There is now new training, a new safety program, and preparations for passenger service on Main Street again. The days of parking on the tracks or driving on the Main Street Mall are over for good, by the way.
“The mall is made up of pavers,” Rosenfeld says. “We spent several hundred-thousand dollars this past summer putting the pavers back together properly, so that they would not be a hindrance to the trolley itself.”
Rosenfeld says people sometimes applaud when they see the trolleys on main street these days. We found some happy folks, like Tracy Trotter of Memphis, who likes the idea of the trolleys back in town.
“I think our city has done a lot to improve all of our logistics,” Tracy said, “…and I think it’ll just be another fun thing, another fun attraction for Memphis.”
It’s not just a tourist thing either. Howard Manis used to live downtown, saying, “… and the loop went in front of my condominium. I know people in the building were upset when it stopped running because a lot of the people utilized it, and I know they’re excited its coming back.”
MATA boss Rosenfeld isn’t ready to name a specific date. He says testing done on March 21st by Federal and State Transportation inspectors will be extremely important. If MATA does well, they will announce a date. Rosenfeld does say they still expect to be in service sometime in April.