New Haven residents will soon have access to a cheap, environmentally friendly mode of transportation around downtown.
The Greater New Haven Transit District has purchased two electric trolleys that will operate in a loop around the downtown area of New Haven. The city of New Haven, the Greater New Haven Clean Cities Coalition, and the Greater New Haven Transit District are putting the service into effect.
Brian McGrath, director of traffic and parking in New Haven and co-coordinator of the Clean Cities Coalition, said that the measure has gained support at the congressional level because of its goal to promote the use of alternative fuels.
“That’s where the money came from,” he said.
He added that the purchase is being funded by an 80 percent federal share, which was recently approved in Congress.
McGrath said the trolleys will run to the parking garages at Temple Street and to the New Haven Coliseum. They will also cover the business district of Elm Street and Whalley Avenue as well as the Chapel Street retail area. The city is also looking to have the trolleys service the Broadway shopping district.
“Downtown routes haven’t exactly been decided,” McGrath said.
McGrath said the two trolleys were purchased for $250,000 apiece, but they will only cost $60 per hour to operate. The charge for each ride will be 25 cents.
He added that the trolleys would be efficient since no person would be waiting more than 10 minutes at a time for one to arrive.
Donna Carter, executive director of the Greater New Haven Transit District, said one of the primary goals of the program is to cut down air pollution. She added that Santa Barbara, Calif. developed electric and hybrid shuttles that have noticeably improved the city’s air quality.
“The model that is always cited is Santa Barbara,” she said.
Carter said the electric trolleys in New Haven will be similar to the Santa Barbara models. Fully battery operated, they look like vintage trolleys.
Because the trolleys will be operating near the Yale campus, Carter said she believes Yale students would certainly benefit from their presence.
Many Yale students agree that the program is a good idea but are not yet certain whether they will actually use the service.
“It doesn’t really affect me because I walk everywhere I need to go; I’ve never used the public transportation,” John Sanders ’05 said.
Lily Diamond ’05 said she believes the proposal will allow New Haven to cut air pollution.
“I don’t have a car, so I’d be walking anyway,” Diamond said. “But I think it would be a good idea for people who would otherwise use their cars to drive a relatively short distance.”
The trolleys are set to begin operation by March 1 of next year.