Saturday, September 23, 2017

Could a trolley or new bus service return to our little City of Lake Worth?

Do you remember “Lolly the Trolley”? Learn more about this former trolley service below.

Recently at the City Commission there have been references made to a new and very much needed bus or trolley service. A certain commissioner had a meeting with a certain County commissioner to talk about this last July.

Does the history of Lake Worth interest you? If you are on Facebook I highly recommend joining a group called “Palm Beaches Remembered.”
Passes once used for Lake Worth’s former
“Lolly the Trolley”.

The City of Lake Worth operated its own local transit operation in the form of “Lolly the Trolley”.

Actually, think it consisted of two trolleys that ran from the Beach, through the Downtown, past Lake Worth Towers, the High School, to the Tri-Rail station and the former Publix on Lake Worth Road. I believe the trolley also went north on Dixie Hwy. into West Palm Beach to the Winn-Dixie at Palm Coast Plaza.

It cost about $1 to ride and was subsidized and operated by the City. I don’t think it received any money from PalmTran. It’s hard to pin down the details; it’s been a while since it ceased operation. The dates on the passes above are from 1996 and 1997.

Operations stopped sometime in the early-2000s. The excuse given was the cost was too-heavily subsidized by the City. Fare revenue made up only a very small portion of the cost to operate the trolleys. They were also said to be difficult to maintain as each was made by a different manufacturer and didn’t share parts. The trolleys were in the shop and out of service many times which did not help the image of reliability.

Regardless, they were a mainstay of Lake Worth for many years and provided a needed service.

Transit between our Beach and points further west including unincorporated County (for example, Palm Beach State College), has been identified as a recurring need: linking these destinations not adequately served by mass transit. Recall hearing late last year, I believe, the City had grant money available to operate such a system but didn’t have the money to buy the equipment.

Now though the situation is much different. There’s much more interest now in public transportation to the Beach, through the Downtown, and to Tri-Rail and the college as well. There’s little doubt the service will be used, not just during Season, but the entire year.

If you recall, the talk of running a trolley service again began last year when people were excited about the Gulfstream Hotel re-opening and a new hotel expansion on the block’s western half. Demand for such a service made perfect sense. But regardless what the owners of the Gulfstream Hotel are doing, or rather not doing, is of no consequence. They had their big opportunity back in January 2016 and then squandered it.

No doubt others have their eye on this historic landmark and the opportunities in such a tight market for hotel rooms in Central Palm Beach County.