New Trolley no. 85 is unveiled to the public

By Joseph Slacian

Selected guests were invited Wednesday to a VIP Trolley Tour by officials of Visit Wabash County.

Visit Wabash County and the City of Wabash took possession of the trolley, dubbed Trolley No.85, earlier in June.

On Tuesday, guests were invited to take a ride from the Visit Wabash County office on South Miami Street to White Rock Recreation where they were treated to wood fire pizza.

While en route to White Rock, riders learned about some of the details the new trolley has to offer.

“We now have a wheelchair lift that actually works,” Tourism Manager Jennifer Long-Dillon told those on the ride. “We can actually get two wheelchairs in here.”

Two of the back benches in the trolley lift up to make room for the wheelchairs.

“They’re forward facing so they can face this way,” she said from the front of the trolley.

The rear of the trolley also opens up to a politician’s platform. Long-Dillon said this platform is much more safer than the platform on the original trolley, which had a gate that could be opened and closed.

“I did not like that,” she said. “It made me a nervous wreck. So, we enclosed the back platform.”

The engine on the new trolley also runs more quietly than the original trolley, which helps make hearing announcements made during various tours much easier.

The trolley also has back-up cameras and cameras all the way around the trolley.

The trolley can now hold up to 40 people, and all the seats are padded to make the ride more comfortable.

The trolley will be used for various events around Wabash County, including tours, festivals, First Friday celebrations and more. In addition, it can be rented by business and individuals for a variety of functions. 

Officials began exploring the purchase of a new trolley after the former 20 passenger trolley started to show significant mechanical and safety concerns. With age, the vehicle has become increasingly hard to service.

The 20-passenger trolley was purchased used in 2014 in partnership between Visit Wabash County, the City of Wabash, and Wabash Marketplace as a vehicle to be used as a people-mover for large festivals and events.  The request for use of the trolley continues to increase year after year for private tours and public events.

In 2019, Trolley No.85 had 2,611 riders total from festivals, First Fridays, private events, and experience tours. Because of the increasing mechanical issues, the trolley was unable to run for many private and public events.

Due to the age of the vehicle, it is nearly impossible to find parts to repair and maintain it.  Understanding the service and programs that the trolley offers the local community as well as attracting tourism to the county, Mayor Scott Long recognized the potential to leverage the safer, larger trolley to grow the tourism that supports our local attractions, restaurants, and retailers.

Long decided to partner with Visit Wabash County and invest in a people-mover that was safe, efficient, and would serve the city and county in a multitude of ways. The vehicle cost just more than $200,000, which the city had budgeted for this year.
Hometown Trolley based in Crandon, Wis., produced the vehicle to the specifications of local officials. 

Posted on 2020 Jul 07