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41 prominently featured in videos and brochures promoting the · An understanding of typical walking distances and atti- city. The Convention and Visitors Bureau noted that the trol- tudes toward walking is needed to gauge whether a leys were an important selling point for visitors, even if they downtown circulator will work. If residents and down- did not use them. town employees are averse to walking, so much the bet- ter, as long as frequency is good. The mayor's staff convened a meeting of business and · The special Friday night trolleys are worth their weight community leaders to explore options regarding the trolleys. in gold. These services associate the trolleys and TARC TARC explained to the group that the 50-cent fare and less- with the vibrancy of the community and thus change ened frequency of service were stumbling blocks to trolley how transit is viewed. use; no fares and good frequency were necessary for success. TARC's advice to another agency trying to replicate its At the next meeting, TARC proposed no fares, 7 to 10 min downtown circulator is to be clear with decision makers and headways along 4th Street, 10 min headways all day along stakeholders about what you are getting into--objectives, Main and Market Streets, a marketing campaign, and a survey expectations, costs, and the role of the trolley. It is imperative of riders. TARC gave the group a price tag of $102,000 for the to have the downtown business community and activity summer, and the Downtown Development Corporation agreed groups on board as part of the experiment, not as after-the-fact to fund summer operations, with the understanding that the observers. The downtown circulator needs champions, within group would reconvene after the summer to decide on a future both the transit agency and civic groups. In Louisville, the trol- direction. ley aided in the revitalization of downtown, although it is important to note that the trolley would not have achieved this by itself. The role of the trolley in downtown revitalization was Benefits and Drawbacks not as the leader, but as a lever that made other things possible. A primary benefit of the Louisville trolleys was increased Success is measured partly but not entirely on ridership; exposure to transit for community members that might not community acceptance and support is a big part of the equa- normally ride the bus. This exposure does not always benefit tion. One downtown business leader noted that the image TARC, because some residents do not believe that the trolleys conveyed by the trolley would be useful even if it was empty. are part of the agency. Measuring success involves the answer to the question: why are we doing this? If the vibrancy and attractiveness of down- The primary drawback of the trolleys is that they are slow; a town is the answer, then develop metrics such as how many result of downtown congestion. This is particularly true along people come downtown. The trolley is part of the attraction, Main and Market Streets; however, 4th Street has been but lots of people and organizations can share credit for opened to traffic and is no longer a pedestrian mall. The deci- downtown's vitality. sion to charge a fare discouraged ridership, but the trolleys were once again free in the summer of 2010. CENTER CITY DISTRICT--PHILADELPHIA, PA Changes and Lessons Learned If TARC could change one aspect of trolley operation it would implement a dedicated lane or signal priority for the trolleys to speed operation. TARC offers several lessons learned through its operation of the downtown trolleys: Center City District is a Business Improvement District in Center City Philadelphia, whose mission is to enhance the · Trolleys provide greater exposure to transit for commu- vitality of Center City Philadelphia as a thriving 24-h down- nity members who do not ride the bus. Residents who town and a great place to live, work, and have fun. The Central may not be aware of the bus network notice the trolleys Philadelphia TMA, affiliated with the Center City District, downtown. works to make travel within Center City efficient, reliable, · Appearances matter. People like the trolleys, whether pleasant, and safe. The TMA manages the downtown circu- they ride them or not. lator, known as the Phlash. The regional transit agency in · Trolleys provide positive images congruent with the Philadelphia is the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation vision of civic leaders for their city and especially their Authority (SEPTA), which operates 1,152 peak buses directly, downtown. The symbology of the trolleys builds sup- along with 278 heavy rail vehicles, 127 light rail vehicles, port for transit among key stakeholders. 20 trolleybuses, and 315 commuter rail vehicles. SEPTA serves · Frequent service is necessary to attract riders. Current an area of 3.3 million and has an annual ridership of 341 mil- headways range from 7 to 10 min throughout the day. lion. Downtown employment is more than 200,000.
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42 Circulator Origins and Operation result of trying to please all markets, it was excessively long. When the TMA assumed operation, it focused on the tourist The downtown circulator (the Phlash) in Center City Philadel- and visitor market and designed a simple, shorter loop, from phia was the brainchild of then-Mayor Edward Rendell in the the Delaware River waterfront to the Art Museum, passing 1990s, a time when a new convention center and several new the convention center and several hotels. Aside from minor downtown hotels were opening. The mayor had witnessed changes, that route continues today. In 2009, the Philadelphia something similar in Phoenix and thought that the concept Zoo and the children's museum, located west of the Art would work in Philadelphia. SEPTA initially operated the Museum, asked to participate, and the route was extended to downtown circulator under contract with the city. When the its present configuration. city (under a new mayor) could no longer afford to operate it, the TMA assumed the role of operator with the help of grants SEPTA contributed funding to brand a new vehicle that from the state. Mayor (later Governor) Rendell has been the was required for the extension to maintain the headway. The lead champion of Phlash service. The TMA has been the stew- TMA also reached an agreement with the zoo and the chil- ard and operator of the Phlash. A contractor provides day-to- dren's museum along the route extension that they would day operation. make up any funding shortfall as a result of the extension. Ridership skyrocketed, so the agreement was not needed. The market for the Phlash is clearly defined as tourists and visitors. Its main purposes are to support a "park once" concept The Phlash operates every 12 min between 10 a.m. and for day visitors and to serve the convention center and hotels. 6 p.m., 7 days a week, between May 1 and October 31. Employees, shoppers, and downtown residents also use the Chance Historic Streetcars are the vehicles used on the Phlash. The Phlash operates along Market Street and Benjamin Phlash, and these are branded with a distinctive color scheme, Franklin Parkway between Penn's Landing and the Philadel- shown in Figure 14. The contractor purchases and main- phia Museum of Art, and then extends west to the Centennial tains the vehicles. District with stops at the zoo and children's museum. Figure 13 shows a streamlined route between tourist attractions that also Ridership is heaviest on the weekends, reflecting the serves a major business corridor. There are 27 Phlash stops. Phlash's tourist orientation. Saturday averages almost 2,000 riders, Sunday ridership is more than 1,600, and weekday The original route was circuitous and confusing and took ridership is slightly under 1,400. Senior citizens can ride free, in residential, retail, employment, and tourist spots. As a and account for 23% of Phlash ridership. 16 15 17 12 13 14 18 12 19 11 20 21 5 10 22 9 4 8 7 6 3 2 23 24 25 26 27 1 # FIGURE 13 Phlash route map.