TBTA introduces new winter trolley route and schedule

News Photo by Jason Ogden Eric Dubie, a Thunder Bay Transportation Authority mechanic, inspects one of the agency’s electric/diesel trolleys before the vehicle is sent out to run a transportation route for the day. The service will continue through winter hours according to TBTA Operations Manager Andrew Sundin with reduced hours and a few different stops. The reduced hours begin Nov. 1.

ALPENA — The Thunder Bay Transportation Authority’s electric/diesel trolley service will continue running through the winter months with reduced hours and stops beginning Nov. 1.

The authority board verbally approved the chances during a Thursday meeting. Operations Manager Andrew Sundin said the TBTA’s trolley committee met and discussed the recent changes.

Sundin said the new trolley running days, which will begin Nov. 1, are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“We have to start later in the day due to making sure that road conditions are good enough because of how low the trolleys ride,” Sundin said.

There is also going to be a change for the start of the route as well as some changes of where the buses will be at certain times. This is because of the change of the TBTA operations site.

The new facility, which is now located on Hamilton Road north of the city, means that the trolley route’s new starting stop will be at the Ramada Inn, Sundin said.

Sundin said the original first trolley stop was Neiman’s Family Market, which was located closer to the Prell’s Service Building where operations used to be housed.

“All the stops should be pretty close to their original times,” Sundin said. “It’s something we knew we were going to have to do, we just didn’t want to do it in the middle while we’re still running (the full trolley route).”

Sundin said a few of the stops have been removed for the winter months as well, including Mich-E-Ke-Wis Park and Thompson Park.

“We don’t anticipate much winter access,” Sundin said. “But we’re adding in the brand new location at the Dollar Tree on Ripley, we have a large number of our Dial-a-Ride customers that go to that store, Tractor Supply and the Big Boy Restaurant. We decided to try that out as a new stop to see how that works, we have never really had large a footprint on Ripley Street and it’s a good way to test that out.”

Sundin said the TBTA’s trolley committee is hoping to revamp the summer routes for 2018 and possibly revamping how the service is operated.

“We’re not exactly sure how we’re going to do that yet, we are going to spend the winter speaking with the community, the Alpena Chamber of Commerce and other people who have good input,” Sundin said.

One comment about the service from users is the route, which loops around the city once an hour. Sundin said one suggestion is to have two trolleys running.

“Obviously the circle route once an hour has not been as a successful as we hoped, there has been talks of having two trolleys that run different routes and to have a transfer point where people can get to one point or another,” said Sundin.

More information about the new routes can be found by visiting the TBTA’s website at www.thunderbaytransportation.com.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.