After a slow start to the year, the Charlotte Trolley is starting to gain back some of the scores of riders who packed the cars in past years.
Put back in service in late April, the trolley's ridership has increased from 875 in May to 1,556 in July. August's numbers aren't yet available.
“We're very pleased with what we're seeing now,” said Ron Tober, Charlotte Trolley's executive director and former head of the Charlotte Area Transit System.
The trolley, which only runs hourly on Saturdays and Sundays, averaged about 195 riders per day in July, while the light rail has averaged more than 16,000 riders per weekday on average since starting in November. The light rail runs seven days a week – every 7.5 minutes during rush hour.
Both forms of transportation share the same tracks.
Tober still says the trolley offers a unique glimpse of Charlotte's past and gives riders another option when the light rail gets crowded. Groups often request a special weekday trip, Tober said, which is available to groups of 15 or more.
The trolley, though, was supposed to operate seven days per week by late May. Tober said costly fuel prices have slowed that plan.
The trolley currently operates from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sundays for the same cost as the light rail – $1.30 each way for adults and 65 cents each way for seniors and youths. It starts at Atherton Mill and ends at Ninth Street, with nine stops in between.