Getting dependable trolley fleet first step in building success

We’re disappointed to read of the ongoing problems the trolleys operated by the Thunder Bay Transportation Authority are having in Alpena.

It seems as if from the very start the fleet has been plagued with mechanical and structural concerns.

That, combined with poor use of the trolleys by the public, has made what should have been a positive asset for the community instead, an unfortunate disappointment.

The experience has been a public relations nightmare.

But it need not be. If the mechanical issues can be resolved so the fleet becomes dependable, it is easy to resolve the other issues by the board determining who the target audience is for the trolleys. In the winter that is easy — the audience would be local residents. As such, the board needs to establish a route geared to popular local stops, advertise and promote it, and keep to the schedule. If that is done, ridership will follow.

Harder, perhaps, are the other seasons as to who the target audience should be. Local residents’ needs don’t necessarily mirror those of visitors and guests, and we think good arguments can be made for either group being viable target audiences for trolley use.

Personally we would designate two routes and run them simultaneously, but we understand current economics would not justify that. That being the case, we would try to blend one route so it would be 60 percent tourism driven, and 40 percent local oriented. We believe local residents would still use it, and we believe tourists would especially appreciate this mode of public transportation if it was advertised well and people were aware it existed.

There still is an incredible upside to the trolleys, but it all begins with a dependable fleet.

If that can be resolved, we believe the rest will fall into place via a strong marketing program.