LONG BEACH, Wash. — City officials are finalizing plans to replace an aging trolley with a newer, more reliable model with some modern amenities.
At a Jan. 5 workshop, Finance Director David Glasson said the city plans to spend about $51,000 in all to purchase a 1997 Barth Trolley from Classic Trolley, a Medford, Ore. firm. The city will spend about $35,000 from the lodging tax revenue fund, which by law must be used for projects help attract paying overnight guests. A $16,726 grant from the Templin Foundation will pay for some repairs and upgrades to the new trolley.
Currently, the city owns a roughly 35-year-old trolley that has become increasingly unreliable. It is currently out of commission, due to potentially dangerous problems with the steering. On top of that, it doesn’t have heat and isn’t compliant with modern Americans with Disabilities Act standards, city Councilwoman Natalie Hanson said earlier this month.
In December, Long Beach events coordinator Ragan Myer said that because it was “built, not manufactured,” the city has to track down hard to find parts, or build them to specification every time it breaks down.
The trolley is used primarily to give tours to visiting cruise ship passengers, though it also made appearances during Rod Run, the Kite Festival and Loyalty Days in 2014, and can be rented for private events. Myer also uses the trolley during “familiarization (fam) tours,” events designed to show area attractions to visiting members of the news media and local merchants who provide front-line services to visitors.
According to a city report, the city gave trolley tours to passengers from 22 cruise ships in 2014, and charged $265 per ship. Two other parties paid to rent the trolley. In all, the trolley brought in $7,320, but might have earned as much as $18,285 in additional cruise ship fees if it hadn’t broken down. The city paid $3,700 to maintain and haul the trolley during the same period. Figures for any associated staff time and insurance costs were not immediately available.
According to city projections, the trolley could give tours to passengers from at least 60 cruise ships in 2015.
At the Jan. 5 public workshop, council members and staff discussed how to spend the Templin Foundation grant. Participants agreed that the newer trolley, which is currently a vivid shade of peppermint pink, should be painted blue. The trolley, which seats 25-28 passengers, will require minor repairs to the carpet, interior finish and glass. The council also agreed to pay for new tires, which will cost at least $1,600, a roughly $2,100 “cow-catcher,” and a wood or imitation-wood package for the exterior, which will lend an air of authenticity. That could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000. Eventually, the council hopes to pay $4,000 to $5,000 to add color graphics to the outside of the trolley.
Myer urged the council and staff to try and complete the purchase and upgrades before a scheduled round of fam tours in February, saying the trolley ride was an integral part of the experience. But Glasson cautioned that it could take until March for the rig to be road-ready.