Trolley Takes Inaugural Run Around City

With the clang of a bell and the clapping of its first passengers, the Ventura trolley took its inaugural run downtown Thursday.

The new green and red antique-style streetcar will begin its regular one-hour loop starting today.

City leaders hope the 28-passenger trolley will boost tourism by linking the city's recreational areas with major hotels and restaurants.

"It will be a great way for people who haven't seen our city before to get around," said Councilman Jim Friedman, who christened the shiny new vehicle during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at City Hall on Thursday.

"We've waited a long time for this," said Bill Clawson, director of the Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau. "It is real exciting to see it running again."

Ventura used to have a trolley, but the bus stopped its operations a few years ago due to financial strains.

The new trolley, paid for with federal transit grant money and matching funds from the city's gas tax fund, is under new management and city officials are optimistic that it will succeed.

The trolley will stop at 12 locations. For a 25-cent fare, passengers can hop on a course that starts at the Ventura Harbor Village, heads north to the Ventura Fairgrounds, turns down Main Street toward City Hall and back to the harbor via California Street and the Ventura Pier.

The trolley will operate Wednesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will feature a restaurant run Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m.

From June to August, the trolley will run Tuesdays through Sundays. It will not operate on Mondays, except during three-day holidays.

Trolley operator Susan Crespi has ambitious plans for the decorative vehicle, which features wooden seats, brass handrails and a loud bell.

"I'd like to see local schools making use of the trolley," she said. A former teacher, Crespi is encouraging educators to use the old-fashioned bus for transportation to the city's cultural and historic landmarks.

And she plans to launch a Name-That-Trolley campaign in Ventura classrooms, with the winning class receiving a free spin around the city's western end. "It's a great vehicle," she said. "We're hoping a lot of people are going to ride it."

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