A family of tourists in Marietta stays at the Hilton, rides a trolley to the Square to explore the city and grab a bite to eat, hops back on the trolley to see a Braves game, and then catches one more ride on the trolley to return to their hotel.
That’s what Marietta Mayor Steve Tumlin envisions as he calls for a new trolley system that would promote tourism in his city.
An official study into the issue, approved by the City Council 7-0 last Wednesday, comes as the Braves plan to move into the new SunTrust Park by 2017 and as city planners explore more ways to funnel business into the shops around the Marietta Square.
Though no stops have been finalized yet, some members of the City Council have already suggested the new trolley could stop at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History, the Marietta Museum of History, WellStar Kennestone Hospital, and the Marietta Hilton Hotel and Conference Center.
But unlike some trolleys across the country, the new Marietta trolley would not run on rails, a “hidden asset” that Tumlin says will give planners much more flexibility in determining where the trolley might stop.
The trolley idea isn’t a new one; the Historical Marietta Trolley Company, run by the Buckalew family, currently offers historical trolley tours on a route that would not overlap with any of the stops on the newly proposed line. Nevertheless, many on the City Council see room for a public-private partnership with the Buckalews in this new venture — an idea in which the Buckalews themselves seem interested.
From 2008 to 2011, their company ran a trolley from Marietta to the Braves stadium in Atlanta. But they eventually discontinued the services when they struggled to break even financially due to the long distances and uncertain ride times caused by extra innings at the baseball games. Yet, with the Braves moving into Cobb County, such services may be back on the table for the Marietta-based company.
Details about the costs and logistics of such a system will not be released until city’s staff completes its official study, but Tumlin has already indicated that the startup costs for such a system would run somewhere between $75,000 and $120,000.