A pair of old-fashioned looking “trolley cars” will provide passenger service in Gig Harbor this summer, thanks to a deal approved Thursday by Pierce Transit.
The two trolleys (actually diesel buses) will carry passengers along a route that runs back and forth from Gig Harbor’s uptown shopping area to the often congested historic downtown waterfront, offering 30-minute service at stops along the way.
Pierce Transit is spending $257,000 on the three-month demonstration project.
The City of Gig Harbor and business interests, who have lobbied for trolley service for years, will chip in an as yet unspecified amount of cash and in-kind services.
Members of Pierce Transit’s finance committee enthusiastically praised the project Thursday before unanimously approving the expense. The project does not need approval of the full Pierce Transit board.
Puyallup City Council member Steve Vermillion suggested other Pierce County communities, including Puyallup, might want to follow Gig Harbor’s lead and develop similar partnerships with Pierce Transit.
“I hope other communities see that this is an opportunity to perhaps augment service they may feel they are not getting,” Vermillion said.
Finance Committee member Derek Young, who’s also on the Gig Harbor City Council, said business people in his city are thrilled with the prospect.
“They’re so happy they are literally joking about doing back flips,” Young told fellow committee members.
The trolleys will offer service between July 9 and Sept. 28, with trips from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Service will be extended to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Adults will pay 25 cents. Youth, seniors and people with disabilities will ride for free.
Pierce Transit public relations officer Carol Mitchell said the two 1999 diesel trolleys, manufactured by Chance Coach, are on their way from North Carolina on flatbed trucks. Leasing the two vehicles for the summer cost Pierce Transit $75,000, Mitchell said.
The trolleys are 29 feet long and carry 27 seated passengers. They come equipped with a hand-pull trolley bell and a public address system.
Tina Lee, Pierce Transit’s “service innovation administrator,” said 12 Pierce Transit drivers will be specially trained for the trolley jobs. Their 40 hours of training will include facts about Gig Harbor, she said, so they’ll be able to tell tourists about the town.
The drivers will be asked to dress the part, Lee said, wearing black pants, white shirt and a visor.
Pierce Transit also is painting two of its surplus 30-foot buses to look like trolleys, Mitchell said. They’ll be used as substitutes in case the leased trolleys break down.Rob Carson: 253-597-8693