Tourist ‘trolley’ goes the way of the Dodgers

The Brooklyn Paper
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The fake, gas-guzzling tourist trolleys that have failed to attract visitors to Brooklyn’s cultural institutions have been quietly put out of their misery, and will be replaced later this summer with fuel-efficient models that will go all the way into Manhattan in search of tourist treasure.

The original trolleys will make their last loop on July 1 — a victim of a ridership that had dwindled to mostly locals enjoying a free lift between activities.

The new program will start in late summer or early fall, with Borough President Markowitz and the Heart of Brooklyn arts consortium unveiling buses to bring tourists to Prospect Park, the Botanic Garden and the Brooklyn Museum from Manhattan tourist hotspots like Times Square, the South Street Seaport, and Museum Mile along upper Fifth Avenue.

“We’re going to promote [our] cultural institutions to specific populations who may not be visiting,” said Heart of Brooklyn’s Executive Director Ellen Salpeter. “We’re trying to focus on bringing in some of those dollars to Brooklyn.”

The new buses will shuttle tourists to the Brooklyn Museum for First Saturdays, a free event each month. On other Saturdays, the buses will remain in the borough, bringing to the park Brooklynites from neighborhoods like Bay Ridge and Williamsburg that have no easy mass transit connection.

And on Sundays, the buses will again bring tourists from Manhattan, Salpeter said. Ideally, the shuttles will be free, she added, but those details are still under discussion.

The project will be funded by a $475,000 city grant to purchase new “green” shuttle buses. An additional $150,000 grant from Deutsche Bank will help market the effort.

The fake trolley’s failure was apparent to Park Slopers, who enjoyed the free ride, but rarely saw the throngs of tourists for whom the freebie was designed. A 2006 report commissioned by Heart of Brooklyn sealed the fate of the bus service with a finding that 78 percent of the riders were indeed Brooklynites.

This time, Salpeter said the shuttles would have a more aggressive advertising push. So far, the trickiest point has been negotiating a feasible route.

“Our trolley moved around the park which has no traffic in it — so we knew how long that took,” Salpeter said. “We want to get the routes down. It’s New York. ... There’s always something that you’re not expecting.”

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Reader Feedback

Liz from windsor terrace says:
What's wrong with locals using it? People from Manhattan already have the subway.
There is no easy way to get from one side of the park to the other. It takes 3 buses to get the brooklyn Museum, 2 buses to get 5th ave. and 3 to get to Fairway in red hook from Windsor Terrace. Bring back the shuttle around the park and the Prospect Ave bus.
Its our tax dollars we should be getting the service.
June 24, 2008, 2:28 am
Josh Morris from Bronx says:
I have always enjoyed going on the trolley because my close friend is/was one of the drivers. I remember sitting in the red trolley in the bench seat across from the driver and I would help him and the people who came on with strollers. It's really ashame that they are discontinuing the park tour. I have been going every other weekend and chilling there. My friend's brother is the other driver. I will miss going to Prospect Park and being on the trolley. But in a way, we needed new trollies anyway. Very often the red trolley would break down because it was old, purchased in 1998, and I understood why it kept breaking down. One weekend, I remember, it was the start of our first tour and we were just leaving Grand Army Plaza and the ABS system (Brake) would not disengage. I have a lot of stories about this trolley. I'm gonna miss all the people who we, meaning my friend and I, used to have real conversations with the passengers. I will miss seeing all my passengers and I'm really sorry this has happened.
June 29, 2008, 4:57 am
Josh Morris from Bronx says:
Liz, you may know me, I was the young adult that sat across from my friend who was a driver of the trolley every other weekend. I strongly agree with you. It is also hard to get down PPW because the B69 hardly ever runs. When ever we made a stop at President Street and PPW, People would question us and I woudl tell them to hop on if they are going down PPW. They do need to bring back the Shuttle. I'm really sorry that this happend to you and even every one around the area of Prospect Park. Hopefully, the same drivers will be running the new trollies and I'll be there to help people and to enjoy the new routes. :-(
June 29, 2008, 5:02 am

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