Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has seen a boost in ridership since four new trolley buses were introduced into its shuttle operation in mid-January.
The trolleys, operated by Waco Transit in a partnership with the university, were manufactured by Optima Bus and feature the Opus chassis and a customized body. “It’s a replica trolley on the outside with an interior of a regular bus,” said Allen Hunter, assistant manager at Waco Transit.
Hunter said he expected some disappointment from the campus community when the previous trolley buses were replaced by the new ones. “But they’ve been very well received,” he said. “What we lost in the nostalgic look, we gained in comfort.”
The new trolley buses have padded cloth seats instead of the hard, oak grain seats of the retired buses, improved climate control and 15-inch TV monitors for public service announcements and advertisements. The buses also are equipped with four-camera video surveillance systems and clean-burning 2007 diesel engines.
The ADA-accessible trolley buses can seat 24 passengers and operate along four fixed routes in and around the university campus. Students, faculty and staff can ride the buses for free.
Hunter said ridership has been strong so far. “It’s a direct result of the new trolleys,” he said. “The drivers and students say they love them. The response has been fantastic.”