SURRATT: Will Vicksburg’s new trolley be a boom or bust?

Published 4:00 am Friday, October 20, 2023

A new feature was launched for Vicksburg on Tuesday morning.

After a short ceremony with speeches from public officials, the red ribbon was cut and the city’s new trolley took to the streets for a short ride around the city.

Acquired through a partnership between the City of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, the trolley is seen as another tool for the city’s tourism industry.

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“I think this is going to do so much for this city,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

“We wanted more amenities to get our tours around and we also wanted that option for people that are planning an event to be able to, to rent the trolley and have that really great Vicksburg feel when they’re hosting their event,” said Laura Beth Strickland, VCVB executive director.

The trolley is a very good-looking machine with an unusual paint color. I can’t speak for others, but other places I’ve visited had trolleys painted white or red with a wooden trim, or maybe a green color. I’ve never seen an electric blue trolley.

“We really wanted a bright color that people can see the trolley when it’s coming and also put off that great color of fun,” Strickland said. “We had a committee look through all the swatches and this blue really popped out. We were excited about it and it’s really turned out really pretty. We were really excited about how it looks and really excited to get it out on the streets and have people using it for their events.”

The trolley can be a boon to the city’s tourist business in several ways; it can be rented out for events and parties or used as transportation from the riverfront when the cruise boats come in. I know the boats have their own buses, but what about those folks who just want to walk around downtown? Using the trolley as a shuttle to downtown could be a major enhancement for our visitors.

That fancy bus can be a major boon to the city or it could be a bust. If we all think back, we should remember there is a white elephant sitting under the city parking garage at the corner of Walnut and South streets.

Purchased in 2014, the NRoute trolley was touted as a major tourist attraction, but rules and regulations tied to the $192,979 federal transportation grant that helped pay for the trolley turned it into a bust. Attempts by the city to subsidize it were unsuccessful.

Now, nine years after the first attempt at having a trolley for the city, a new trolley will be on the city streets.

Apparently, it seems the city has learned its lesson and bought the new blue trolley from Creative Bus Sales Inc. of Chino, Calif., for $255,055 without using federal funds. The challenge now will be to promote the trolley and encourage people to use it and keep the rate structure affordable.

Personally, I hope the trolley succeeds; I think it can help the tourism business. But the fear of a blue elephant sits in the back of my mind.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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