Monterey-Salinas (Calif.) Transit (MST) debuted a new fleet of rubber-tired trolleys, manufactured by Optima Bus Corp., at a waterfront parade in mid-May. The official unveiling, which took place in downtown Monterey, featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches from various partners in the project, including MST General Manager Frank Lichtanski, Monterey Vice Mayor Clyde Roberson and Leslie Rogers, administrator of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Region IX. The event concluded with the six-trolley fleet traversing an MST waterfront route.
“These [trolleys] are a part of the aesthetics of Monterey. They will make people think, ‘Why can’t we have those where I live,’” said event speaker Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.).
The Victorian-style trolleys, which cost $337,890 each, were paid for through a public/private partnership with the city, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the FTA and Municipal Services Group.
The ADA-compliant trolleys seat 27 passengers and are equipped with a Cummins ISB engine and an Allison B300 transmission. Other features include a Q’Straint wheelchair tie-down system, video surveillance and an annunciator system. The annunciator system has four prerecorded announcements informing passengers of historical facts about various destinations and attractions on the route.
The trolleys will replace small shuttle buses that began service in 1992 as a way to relieve congestion in the area. Service on the nearly 3-mile route, known as The WAVE (Waterfront Area Visitor Express), transports passengers to various local attractions, including Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and downtown.
The free service, which operates from Memorial Day to Labor Day, has an average ridership of 100,000 during the season. However, since the launch of the new trolleys, ridership on the WAVE has already surpassed expectations, with 36,264 riders in June, a 50% increase over 2003. “The trolleys have proven very popular with visitors and locals alike,” said Lichtanski, “and they provide an early 1900s old Monterey ambience.”