Business owners want trolley stop #83 moved

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Business owners on upper Spring Street don't think this sign is big enough to encourage tourists to walk around the corner from the post office to shop. CCN/Mary Jean Sell

Business owners on the upper portion of Spring Street wants the trolley stop near the post office removed and riders brought around the corner to increase their business.

John Wiley, co-owner of the Eureka Springs Model Railroad Co. at 127 Spring St., says he represents "a consortium of business owners" asking the Transit Department to make some route changes.

There is a trolley stop, #84, at the end of the building where Wiley's business is located.

"Once the trolley stop at 99 Spring St., #83, was installed, we lost all our business up here," Wiley said. "Everyone rides the trolley up hill to #83 and then they get off and walk back downtown. Why can't the trolley bring them around the corner and let them off?"

He also cited safety as an issue at #83.

"Mountain Street, Elk and Owen come to Spring Street right there. There is a parking lot across the street. The stopped trolleys cause congestion when drivers want to turn or go around. It seems like there is a lot of traffic in that area without the trolleys dumping passengers there, too."

Transit Director Lamont Richie says his answer to the problem now is pretty much the same as it was in November of 2003 when this same issue came up.

"There is a highlighted comment on the trolley map that says 'HINT - if your plans include shopping downtown, consider riding to the 3rd stop (#84) and walking back down'," Richie said.

"Every driver has been instructed to clearly announce there are three trolley stops in the downtown area and to suggest riders go to the third stop and walk back.

"Drivers have gone so far as to say what types of businesses are at each stop, including the model railroad display."

Richie had a meeting with the drivers Friday morning and asked them about ridership from the downtown trolley depot, near the courthouse, to the Palace Bathhouse at 135 Spring St.

"Their response was unanimous," he said. "Passengers who initially seem enthusiastic about riding to the third stop often decide to get off near the post office. It is a safe, level and convenient stop for people who want to get off the trolley there."

Richie has been contacted about changing the stops by at least one member of the city council.

In an e-mail to all of the council Friday, he reminded them that the trolley stops are approved by the council in the fall before the start of the next season in the spring.

"It peeves me no little bit to be accused of causing a business decline because passengers request to be off-loaded before the trolley gets to the complaining business's location," he wrote.

"I would venture to say that there are businesses between the first and second stops that have experienced various degrees of revenue loss in the last few years.

"We try to provide service where it is needed and where it is wanted, and where it can be safely and efficiently carried out.

"It is my opinion, formed in large part because of the feedback from the people who deal with these passengers every day, if you removed the second stop, we (as in 'we' the transit department) will start having to deal with a lot of (angry) people.

"And I am not convinced that forcing (angry) people to ride to the third stop (#84) will result in greater sales for the businesses there."

"I know Lamont is opposed to removing #83," Wiley said, "but the business owners up here need the support of the city. Business is down. People don't see the sign at the corner telling them there are more shops up the street when they get off at #83.

"People travel for hundreds, maybe thousands of miles, to get to Eureka Springs. The CAPC (City Advertising and Promotion Commission) spends thousands of dollars to get them here. Why can't we keep them on the trolleys for 300 more feet and bring them around the corner?"

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