Give trolleys a chance | AspenTimes.com

Give trolleys a chance

I am concerned that the point-by-point inflammatory misinformation and distortion of facts, printed as a guest commentary Oct. 23, by a public official, will be believed and will influence voters who are not well informed with the facts regarding the proposed trolley system.

Trolley advisors know from years of education and experience that a properly organized and run trolley system will enhance this community, as it has in every one of the approximately 30 cities where trolleys have been implemented.

As Aspen is presently struggling with a local economic downturn along with traffic problems, there is no better time than now to give trolleys a chance. In truth, there is only NOW.

On Nov. 5, the fate of the trolleys will be permanently decided ? other towns are eagerly awaiting the results of any lack of vision in Aspen. This vote will dictate the direction Aspen’s citizens wish to go.

Do we continue with noisy, out-of-scale buses emitting toxic diesel fumes inside a small town dependent on tourism for survival? Do we continue with a shuttle truck serving Galena Street during high season? Do we continue with high-season traffic congestion of cars circulating to access the downtown core?

Or do we take a small step in the direction of a mode of transport that has succeeded and expanded where it has been implemented? Trolley systems ? new, vintage and heritage copies ? are once again springing up all over the country to enhance transportation and city core solutions.

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To date, there are no examples of failed trolley systems. Experts tell us a trolley system will do many positive things for the Aspen community, as it has for communities all over the U.S. and Europe. If they succeed elsewhere, why not in Aspen?

It is unfortunate to have a diatribe of distortion and misinformation from an elected official who apparently makes no attempt to research his “facts,” and who dismisses the expertise of a nationally recognized trolley/streetcar expert.

Why does an elected official masquerade as a trolley expert while deliberately ignoring the facts presented to him by an acknowledged expert and by a Web site that sources accurate information all over the country?

A few examples only: In attempting to manipulate the business community with fear by stating that the streets would be torn up for two or more years, he has had to forget that he has been informed repeatedly, in reports and by an expert, that track laying, by itself, will take one off-season.

His commentary states that there could be “millions of dollars in operating costs.” The City Council voted on the ballot question and a contract that demands that the operation and maintenance of the trolley system not exceed the operation and maintenance of the Galena Street shuttle truck. It is required that all cost overages are to be bonded by the Aspen Street Railway Co.

He was told on TV, with a national expert, that trolley parts were readily available through a growing cottage industry that easily supplies trolley parts to scores of cities. This commentary goes beyond the distortion of truth. There are four columns of distortions designed to destroy the proposed trolley system with fear and make supporters look like fools.

As statements from elected officials carry more weight than from the private sector, it is a moral obligation for elected officials to verify information before making public statements.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have elected officials who wanted to explore a good idea with its citizenry, obtain accurate, available information and who joined in partnership rather than acting as obstructionists with knee-jerk opinions?

For people who would like accurate information before they vote, there are informational brochures on the proposed trolley system at Main Street Bakery and a Web site ? aspentrolley.com ? with links that access facts and expertise across the U.S.

Give the trolleys a chance!

Camilla Sparlin

Aspen