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Trolley being considered as transportation option in Amherst

The Amherst Business Improvement District is in the process of acquiring a trolley that would operate like a small bus.

“The idea is to get students and other visitors to the campus easily downtown,” said BID Executive Director Alex Krogh-Grabbe.

Such a trolley system, which would be free for all riders, would help promote greater use of stores and restaurants by students, parents and visitors to UMass, Krogh-Grabbe said.

Students, he said, are an essential foundation for the economic well-being of Amherst.

“Businesses need them to come downtown,” Krogh-Grabbe said.

He said that the town already has a good public transportation infrastructure and the trolley would supplement, not replace, the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority buses and the new late-night Sober Shuttle.

The BID, he said, is working with UMass Transit to determine how and when the trolley should run. The goal is to purchase it this spring, though it may not be in operation until the fall.

The trolley would probably run late afternoons into evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Krogh-Grabbe said. An onboard audio system may be installed to inform passengers about events and other happenings in town. The trolleys also might be scheduled during special occasions in downtown, Krogh-Grabbe said.

He said such shuttles are not common in western Massachusetts, but some coastal and tourist towns use them.

The BID would likely continue to use the trolley during the summertime, even when many students are not in town.

Several other details, including where the pick up and drop off points will be and how drivers will be hired, haven’t been decided.

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