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Joplin city council approves new trolley purchase - KOAM TV 7

Joplin city council approves new trolley purchase

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In a meeting this evening Joplin's city council approved a plan to purchase a new trolley for the city's public transportation system.

Other vehicles are part of Joplin's public transportation, but there's only one bus that looks like a trolley and the city's transportation coordinator says the number of riders on the trolley has been on a steady increase ever since the vehicle was bought.

However, maintenance issues and costs are starting to add up.

Joplin Public Transportation Director Robert Lolley says it cost almost $26,000 over the past three years to maintain the city's only trolley that's been in commission since 2007.

So now, officials say it's time for an upgrade.  The city will again puarchase a bus that looks like a trolley, but because of the aesthetics, the vehicle will cost between $40,000 to $60,000 more than a more conventional bus.

The new trolley will cost about $390,000, with about 80% coming from federal grant money and 20% coming from the city's transportation sales tax fund.

"Systems that operate a trolley have a higher ridership than those that have an urban bus," Lolley says.  "This one is designed for daily transit use - the one (we have) I think is probably more for a weekend charter or a wedding service.  The new one is designed with a low floor.  It will pull up to a curb, it has an air bag system on it, so it will kneel down at the curb to get the curb height more in line, and then a ramp is deployed from the front door."

While some riders we spoke with said the look and feel is worth the extra money, others told us they would rather the city spend the money to expand the routes of the public transportation service.

Expanding the routes may eventually be a possibility, but city officials say a new trolley would still make public transportation worthwhile for the time being.

The new trolley will have the same number of seats as the old vehicle.

Lolley says it'll take about a year for the new trolley to be made and ready for use.

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