City Trolley Cost Taxpayers $18 per Rider

City Trolley Cost Taxpayers $18 per Rider

An analysis of costs and ridership of the City of Tallahassee’s complimentary trolley service shows that taxpayers paid $18 for each trolley rider over the period from February to May, 2017.

According to the city’s website, the trolley service was developed to make it “convenient to take a break from your daily routine and support our local economy while expanding your dining options and making new connections.”

The lunch-time service provides routes that connect the Downtown to Midtown, College Town and Cascades Park.  The night-time route runs continuously between Midtown, Downtown and College Town.  The launch of this service also included signage, free Wi-Fi on the trolleys and a real-time map of each trolley’s location accessible through a smartphone.

The operational information, included in the city’s budget workshop presentations, shows that from February (service started February 2oth) to May of this year, operation costs were $210,285 and the total ridership was 11,753. The cost per rider is calculated to be $17.9 per rider.

Breaking the numbers out for lunch and dinner service, the analysis shows that each rider cost taxpayers $31 during the lunch service and $7.1 during the dinner service.

These calculations are based on $50,000 per month in costs for the lunch trolley service and $14,400 per month in costs for the dinner trolley service.

The city provided a monthly break down of the lunch time riders. Those numbers are provided below with cost information.

Month           Riders       $/Rider
February           484                30
March              1,931                26
April                2,415                21
May                    478              105       
Total           5,308                31

Not surprisingly, the numbers show a significant spike in readership during months when the Florida Legislature was in session.

TR will have an update after the budget workshop on June 14th, 2017.

11 Responses to "City Trolley Cost Taxpayers $18 per Rider"

  1. When the Commission voted to start up the trolley again, Nancy Miller said it was a “no brainer”. I think the only “no brainer” is Nancy Miller.

  2. I’ve worked downtown for many years
    as a state employee and now in private business. Regarding lunch, I can not afford to go out to lunch and don’t have the time. I bring my lunch. Call me cheap. Going out to lunch for me
    is a rarity and I only eat out on special occasions. From what I have observed, these buses ride empty and spew black stinky exhaust. So much for being a green city.

  3. Well, blow me down! I did not understand that the City was paying for this; thought the businesses were paying straight through and the City operates the Toonerville. Pay attention!
    How can it be justified that special buses (no matter how quaint looking)designed to directly help certain businesses, be a taxpayer expense.
    The bars and diners and restaurants were sited because….one would presume…. research held that there was a local customer base large enough to support the business. If that turns out not to be the case then I don’t see it as a public service to haul folk all over town to make up for the business owner’s error. McDonald’s doesn’t do business this way.

  4. Why should anyone support this? We are, once again, subsidizing businesses cherry-picked by whomever calling the shots these days, and overstating “community” benefits.
    As bad as the admitted ridership is, to my observation, even these numbers may be greatly exaggerated. It is rare to see more than 1or 2 riders on these mostly empty busses.

  5. Net win for local biz. People went to lunch and dinner. If you support Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida and private sector jobs, you should support this.

    1. So if someone took the trolley to the Edison, which cost taxpayers over $2,000,000 divided by population of 189,000= or $10.58 per person, then that lunch cost taxpayers $28.58. I realize it’s a little fuzzy math but it makes the point. I should support this? Just let taxpayers keep their tax dollars for themselves. Private sectors thrive in low tax/low crime cities.

  6. The trolley will grow and grow. I am a conservative that believes in this use of gov. money. Keep promoting the trolley all over social media and PR. This can be a huge success for the community.

  7. Off topic but TR should be keeping an eye on the Financial Disclosure filing gillum has to make by July 1, to see if he lives up to his promise of getting rid of his $140,000 salary from People for the American Way. As of this date, no amendments have been made to his filing.

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