Trolley route is cut short by four stops
The trolley route just got shorter.
Meeting on Thursday, March 19, the Port Aransas City Council voted 4-2 to eliminate the four least-used stops from the route of the trolley that makes a circuit round and round Port Aransas every day.
Mayor Claude Brown and council members Keith McMullin, Mike Hall and Glenda Ballentine voted in favor of striking the stops. Councilmen Charles Bujan and Keith Donley voted against the measure. Councilman Rick Pratt was absent.
The vote deleted stops at the airport, Gulf Waters RV Resort, Sandcastle Drive and on the beach at the south jetty.
A city count of riders at the stops tallied only 23 people using the stop at Gulf Waters, 16 at Sandcastle Drive, 28 at the south jetty and 22 at the airport Jan. 8-31.
During the same period, there were 115 riders at Pioneer RV resort, 104 at Access Road 1A, 71 on 11th Street, 44 on Avenue G and Alister Street, 58 on Ross Avenue, 52 on Cut-off Road, 45 at Roberts Point Park and 79 on Cotter Avenue.
The council voted last year to remove the Gulf Waters stop from the route. In February, the council voted to have city staff reduce the number of stops made at Gulf Waters each day, rather than eliminating the stop completely.
But Gulf Waters continued to produce relatively few riders. Only three people used the trolley stop there from Feb 23 to March 11, said Pat Garrett, executive assistant to the city manager.
City staff proposed doing away with the lesser-used stops in order to shave about 15 minutes away from what previously was an hourlong trolley circuit around town. Staff is hoping the reduced waiting time will make it more convenient for riders and perhaps increase the number of people who use the service.
Garrett, who is the trolley system's program administrator, said many folks use the trolley to get to and from work. They need shorter waits, she said, adding that tourists also have complained about waits.
Bujan said he voted against the measure because "I'm still unconvinced that … 15 minutes is going to make or break an operation."
Garrett said it will be good to eliminate the south jetty stop partly because the trolley that serves Port Aransas eventually will be replaced by a trolley-like bus that is lower to the ground and will not handle sand as well as the current trolley. The Regional Transportation Authority, based in Corpus Christi, owns the trolley and its replacement bus. It's unclear when the bus will arrive.
The trolley will abandon the four least-used stops on April 4, Garrett said. However, she said, a trip around the entire route will continue to last one hour until RTA officials produce a new schedule with specific times for specific stops. The new schedule is expected to mean a 45-minute circuit.