Scottsdale pulls plug on Day Tripper trolley

Scottsdale Trolley driver Alfayo Ogendi drives throughPassengers ride the Scottsdale Trolley to Scottsdale'sJacqui Galley, visiting from California, takes a rideJacqui Galley, visiting from California, steps offA Scottsdale resident puts a bike in a rack beforeA Scottsdale Trolley drives over a bridge next to whereThe Scottsdale Trolley waits at the Loloma TransitScottsdale's year-round Downtown Trolley has experienced


The Scottsdale City Council has agreed to pull the plug on the city’s Day Tripper trolley, citing low ridership and high operating costs.

The trolley, which serviced a dozen hotels along Scottsdale Road, will not return for another season next winter, saving $300,000.

Instead, the funds from a hotel bed tax will go toward the city’s Downtown Trolley, which has lost riders in recent years.

The City Council accepted the changes to its free trolley system on Tuesday.

“We have limited resources to work with here in the city,” Councilman David Smith said. “In every instance, we need to achieve the best allocation of those resources that we can.”

PREVIOUSLY: Scottsdale to consider changes to trolley routes

The Day Tripper, which ran December through April, has the second lowest average of daily riders among all Scottsdale trolley and routes, according to a city report.

The same report shows the trolley’s cost in the 2014-15 season through February was roughly $11 per rider, a significant jump from about $7 per rider in 2013-14.

By comparison, the highest per-rider cost of all Scottsdale bus and trolley routes in 2013-14 was about $8.

“We could spend the money much more intelligently, with much greater benefit, and that would be on the downtown trolley,” Scottsdale Transportation Director Paul Basha said.

Riders can still use the paid bus Route 72, Scottsdale Road, which has a route identical to the Day Tripper.

In an attempt to boost ridership, Scottsdale will make changes to the free Downtown Trolley route starting in October.

Funding will come from the $300,000 in bed tax revenue previously dedicated to the Day Tripper, along with $150,000 in transportation operating funds.

The new route has not been finalized yet, Basha said. The current proposed route excludes Craftsman Court and Main Street, west of Goldwater Boulevard. However, it is on First Street and First Avenue, west of Goldwater Boulevard, he said.

In addition, the trolley frequency will increase to every 10 minutes from every 15 minutes. Times would be extended from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Trolleys currently operate until 9 p.m. only on Thursdays for Scottsdale ArtWalk.

In 2009, Scottsdale cut back the frequency because of limited funds, leading to “a dramatic decline in ridership,” Basha said.

The trolley ridership peaked in the 2008-09 season with 460 average daily riders, compared to an average of only 223 riders in 2013-14.

The changes should make the tourist-friendly trolley successful once again, Basha said.

Finally, the city will implement a new Camelback Trolley route this fall, replacing a Valley Metro bus route from Scottsdale Fashion Square to Scottsdale Community College.

Scottsdale will operate the new route serving Camelback Towers, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, W Hotel, Camelback Shadows and nearby neighborhoods.

The city will tap $300,000 in operating revenue previously dedicated to the Downtown Trolley to cover a portion of the cost.

The service will run every 15 minutes on weekdays and 30 minutes on weekends from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Scottsdale Trolleys

The city’s free trolley routes include the Downtown Trolley, Neighborhood Trolley and Miller Road Trolley.

The Neighborhood Trolley services south Scottsdale, running between the downtown area south to Roosevelt Drive. It runs every 20 minutes 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The Downtown Trolley runs from Scottsdale Fashion Square to other downtown locations, including Old Town. It currently runs every 15 minutes 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. The frequency will change to every 10 minutes and times will be extended to 9 p.m. starting in October.

The Miller Road Trolley runs from Scottsdale Community College along Chaparral Road north to McDonald and south along 78th Street and Miller Road to downtown. Hours are 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon. – Fri., and 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat. and Sun. Frequency is every 30 minutes Mon. – Fri. and every 60 minutes Sat. and Sun.

SOURCE: Scottsdaleaz.gov/trolley.

Article source: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2015/04/16/scottsdale-pulls-plug-day-tripper-trolley/25878343/