NC: Let it ride: A 'remarkable' success, Greensboro trolley program gets extension

Dec. 21, 2023
The Hopper trolleys have been funded through money from the American Rescue Plan Act and Greensboro's "participatory budgeting" program that allows residents to use city money on community projects of their choice.

Dec. 20—GREENSBORO — The city announced Tuesday morning that it's extending the free downtown "Hopper" Trolley service through June 2024.

The Hopper trolley began in mid-July and was originally scheduled to end in December. But along the way, it's been a hit with residents.

WANT TO RIDE?

The Hopper Trolley runs Thursdays through Saturdays from noon until midnight and Sundays from noon until 10 p.m. Find a route map and a live trolley tracker at www.greensboro-nc.gov/hopper.

Since the pilot program started, more than 25,000 passengers have taken a ride, according to the city.

"The public response to the Hopper has been remarkable," said Reginald Mason, Greensboro's transit director. "We're thrilled to see people out using the trolley to explore new parts of downtown — be it for dining or other entertainment."

The Hopper trolleys have been funded through money from the American Rescue Plan Act and Greensboro's "participatory budgeting" program that allows residents to use city money on community projects of their choice.

Starting in the New Year, the Hopper trolleys will be funded out of the Transit general budget.

The trolleys themselves are actually more like buses. Inside, there are 40 seats and room for an additional 20 if you're willing willing to stand. The interior is decorated with the history of public transit in Greensboro. The route of the streetcar, the predecessor of the Hopper trolley, is outlined across the ceiling.

And speaking of history, the Hopper trolleys will continue to try and avoid the fate of Winston-Salem's trolley buses, which were mothballed in 2014 when the city realized that low usage cost them a $23-per-rider subsidy.

Although both cities now have smaller "trolley pubs" — vehicles powered by the pedaling feet of passengers, typically from one bar to another — only Greensboro now has a free downtown trolley.

The hopper trolley's route is centered along the Elm Street corridor with an average wait time somewhere between every five and seven minutes. Stops include: the South Elm Street/Union Square area, the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, Center City Park as well as several major downtown employers. The route also connects with several existing Greensboro Transit Agency routes.

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