Out in a rural Aldergrove field sits the community’s new pride and joy, a commuter trolley bus that will begin serving the area this Labour Day.
The trolley was unveiled by the Aldergrove trolley committee Tuesday evening, the culmination of many months of dedicated and hard work.
It still needs some polishing, a new paint theme and will be outfitted with a “green” propane-powered engine in place of the diesel block, but it is a solid bus. Built in 1988 for a theme park in Virginia, the trolley has seats for 32 passengers. Committee chairman Dave Miller says they also plan to find a way to make it wheelchair accessible.
“We purchased it last week and brought it here from Surrey,” says Miller.
“The previous owner had brought it from a Miami amusement park with the intention of running it in Stanley Park, but his plans fell through. Our committee vice-chairman, Jody Tremanan spotted it on Craigslist and so we found a trolley with fairly low kilometres right in our own backyard.”
The committee had been scouting for a used trolley in the Nevada area and beyond, so the local deal also saved on transportation costs.
“We will be taking the diesel engine out and converting a new engine to propane. Green is the best way to go, and we will also explore government grants for the conversion,” says Miller.
“We will be changing the green and beige colours to red and blue and will also put commercial ads on the sides and back to help pay for its operation. There are also two TV screens inside which we can use to run commercials on.”
The plan is to have it up and running by the Labour Day weekend, with daily service from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. It would starts out with four round trips from Aldergrove to Gloucester Industrial Estates for workers. This would be followed by runs to the Greater Vancouver Zoo, the Pioneer Park seniors homes in south Aldergrove, and to Otter Co-op, Save-on Foods, Extra Foods and Safeway. The daily service would wind up with several trips from Gloucester back to Aldergrove.
“We would not be in competition with TransLink or BC Transit service; we would be a feeder route that would link other areas of Aldergrove to the transit buses that run to Langley and Abbotsford,” says Miller.
Miller, who retired recently after many years of acting as president and CEO of Fraser River Marine Transportation (Albion Ferry), has also served on the TransLink extended executive. He knows all the “players” on TransLink.
He says the trolley committee submitted its business plan to TransLink two months ago, and it has been approved by TransLink staff.
“TransLink staff have recommended it proceed and it now goes to TransLink board for their vote on July 18. That was the main hurdle and I’m sure the mayors will approve it.”
The trolley service and business plan is closely modelled on the Langford trolley service on Vancouver Island. Langford’s trolley was so well-received that the service quickly acquired a second trolley.
Miller says the Aldergrove trolley service plans to charge a $2 fare, and if it’s as successful as Langford’s service it will also expand to a fleet of two trolleys.