Trolley service a hit in first year

Alex Doty • Apr 20, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Harbor Transit’s Harbor Trolley Service LLC has nearly a year’s worth of rides under its belt, giving leadership a chance to reflect on the new service and set sights on the future.

“Since launching the new service in June (2016), the demand has exceeded our expectations,” Grand Haven Transportation Director Tom Manderscheid said.

Officials say the service had more than 40 bookings in its first six months of operation. 

Each trolley carries as many as 22 passengers, and the vehicles have amenities such as a viewing balcony on the back, MP3 players and LED lighting, Manderscheid noted.

Transit officials say 2017 usage is off to a good start for the new service. So far, an additional 30 reservations have been made for events scheduled as far out as November, Manderscheid said.

“During the first year of operation and we are on track to exceed our planned projections for reservations,” he said.

While most of the trolley rental has been for weddings, the service has also been booked for birthday parties, family reunions and out-of-town visitors such as the Chicago Yacht Club. 

The service covers an area as far south as Holland, as far east as Jenison and north to the Muskegon County line. Manderscheid said the service will be heading to Holland for Tulip Time in May.

“The feedback from our customers has been very positive, from the professionalism of the driver to the uniqueness of the trolley experience itself,” Manderscheid said.

Sue Bomar, one of five drivers for the transit service, said she enjoys taking guests on their journey and meeting the many different people who rent out the trolleys. 

Bomar, who’s worked for Harbor Transit for 38 years, said her favorite event to drive thus far is for weddings.

“I did two weddings already this year, and they were gorgeous,” she said, noting that she enjoys helping out however she can, from recommending photo spots to holding wedding dresses as people board and exit the trolley. 

The two trolleys that make up the fleet were previously in storage for several years and were put back in service last June after being acquired from the city. Manderscheid said they made the necessary improvements to the vehicles and had the proper inspections done to make sure they were safe before sending them out on the road.

The service is different than the historic trolley rides offered by Harbor Transit each summer from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The trolley tours offer a historic narrative tour that starts at Chinook Pier, travels the waterfront and downtown areas, and gives residents and visitors a look at Grand Haven’s history and hotspots.

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