TBTA offering free trolley service for downtown Saturday events

ALPENA — The public will get a chance to ride the Thunder Bay Transportation Authority’s electric/diesel trolleys free Saturday as well as have a chance to win door prizes during the rides.

TBTA Operations Manager Andrew Sundin said a trolley will be running a special downtown route Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. to shuttle shoppers participating in the art walk, Small Business Saturday and the Huron Humane Society’s first ever “Home for the Howladays” fundraiser event, Sundin said.

He said the idea was fostered when Councilwoman Cindy Johnson, who is a humane soceity board member, approached Sundin about using the trolleys for the fundraiser.

“About a week before that I had already been thinking of how busy the downtown area is going to be. I had already been thinking of doing something with the trolleys down there and the idea just kind of blew up,” Sundin said.

He said he contacted the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the Alpena Downtown Development Authority and the groups organized the free trolley service to coincide with the events.

Sundin said some of the trolley stop locations for Saturday will be Lasting Expressions Flower Shop, Bannan Funeral Home, Water Street in front of the old Alpena Power Company site, and the parking area behind The Fresh Palate to name a few. Between 7-8 p.m. Sundin said the trolley will be making stops at the Old Fletcher Brewery for the society event. More information on the stops can be found by visiting www.thunderbaytransportation.com.

Sundin said with the downtown route the trolley will be stopping at each route location about every 20 minutes. Normally the trolleys run on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays during the winter months.

He said for this special circuit the rides are totally free to the public.

“Anyone can come and get the ride for free and use it as a chance to try the trolley if you’ve not used them before, or to get around downtown for your shopping,” Sundin said.

He said all riders get a chance to win prizes donated by the chamber and the DDA that will be given out to roughly every 25 riders on the trolley. Additionally there will be postcards with trolley information handed out that are good for one free trolley ride at a future date, Sundin said.

“It’s a way to give back and support the community and the events downtown and the businesses, as we realize in the past the trolleys have not quite found their role in the community. We thought this would be a good starting point to do things differently and reintroduce them to the public,” Sundin said.

Johnson said she thinks the idea will go over well.

“I like the idea of moving people where people want to be moved, and thought the downtown is a good place to try that,” she said.

She said the event could be a great introduction for the public to the trolley system.

“What I hear in the community for people who may want to ride the trolley is they don’t know where to pick it up, they don’t know where it goes so there is lots of confusion about it. I think in my opinion is see them more used for events and localize them in an area where they are moving tourists to destinations,” Johnson said.

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

What: Free TBTA trolley rides

When: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Where: Alpena’s downtown at nine various stops