When the idea of having a new trolley route in the Augusta Street area was first proposed, residents of the Alta Vista neighborhood were all for it. But when the new route started on Aug. 3, it included no stops in the area bordered by Augusta Street, Faris Road, Cleveland Street, and Church Street.
Nicole McAden, public affairs specialist for Greenlink, said staff were unable to identify stop locations along McDaniel that met Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements, had encroachment permits approved by the state Department of Transportation, and had “buy-in” from the adjacent property owners in time for the route’s first service day.
“When the trolleys were discussed, a lot of folks thought it would be great to have stops in the neighborhood,” said Curt Hall, president of the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association. “But there’s a difference between wanting a stop and having that stop near your house. I guess I understand why people wouldn’t want a stop in front of their house.”
Greenlink will evaluate any requests or recommendations for stops as they come in and plans to re-evaluate the route when its season ends in October.
The Augusta route, one of the new routes in Greenlink’s expanded trolley service, includes Cleveland Park and the Greenville Zoo, popular attractions where parking can get extremely scarce, especially on weekend days when the weather is nice. Traffic on Augusta is a major concern as well and was one of the biggest reasons residents banded together to successfully fight against a Chick-fil-A drive-thru restaurant in the redeveloping Lewis Plaza.
Another new route, Arts West, will include the growing arts and restaurant district in the Village of West Greenville. It will also serve the Hampton-Pinckney and Southernside neighborhoods, as well as provide access to Heritage Green, the home of Greenville’s main library and museums.
Both areas are home to tourist-related destinations, the primary criteria used by Greenlink officials to determine where the expanded trolley service can go, because the city is using hospitality tax money to pay for it. Hospitality tax money must be used for tourism-related expenses.
Using trolleys to lure people to tourist destinations isn’t anything new in Greenville. Trolleys have been a common sight in downtown Greenville since 2006, when the Greenville Drive bought one to shuttle fans that parked at County Square to Fluor Field on game days.
Mayor Knox White said the idea came when city officials visited Chattanooga, Tenn. a city that also has a baseball stadium downtown, and saw a trolley shuttling baseball fans up a hill. White said the city thought a trolley could alleviate parking concerns in the West End on game days.
In 2016, trolley ridership was 118,000 — 10,000 more riders than Greenlink’s White Horse Road route, which is the bus system’s most popular fixed route.