October 29, 2002
Several people have suggested that I simply ignore Tony Hershey’s diatribe against the trolleys, but I can’t. For the most part, his recent op-ed piece was brilliantly written. It was also full of half-truths, distortions and outright lies. It is sad.
Hershey has performed a terrible disservice to everyone in Aspen, whether you like the trolleys or not. But let me highlight just a few of Hershey’s “facts.”
First there is no “construction in the commercial core for two or more years.” Track gets laid in one off-season, the car barn is built in another.
“This would necessitate raising over $6 million.” The budget, inflated at the city’s request, is $5.5 million.
“Eliminating parking on Galena Street.” There will not be one parking place lost.
“Huge ramps if you want to make the trolleys handicapped-accessible.” The same lift installed on the present Galena Street Shuttle will work on the trolleys.
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“The trolleys must also unload in the middle of the street, which is not as safe as a modern bus.” The trolleys run exactly where the present Galena Street bus runs. It drops off passengers in exactly the same place as the bus.
“The trolley can run up and down Galena Street and maybe down to the post office, no further.” The trolley DOES run to the post office and absolutely can travel up to the many housing units and population centers in Hunter Creek.
“Rechargeable batteries sound good, but an unproven system imported just in time for the election is suspect at best.” A trolley system using this technology already exists in Los Angeles.
And now for the distortions: “The trolleys will be an obstacle for the civic master plan.” Nothing in the plan precludes the trolleys. Planners have always been aware of the trolley shuttle.
Hershey says we are divided, that we say “old trolleys will be a Disneyesque tourist boom and on the other that they are an actual transit solution.” He claims they are neither; I say they’re both.
Again I ask, if they aren’t practical transportation, why are they in regular service in Seattle, San Jose, Tucson, New Orleans and Dallas, among others?
“The tracks will have to be maintained and the entire system will be a financial nightmare for the city.” First, there are trolley tracks in Philadelphia in use for more than 100 years. Second, ballot language clearly states that if we can’t operate (and maintain) the trolley for the cost of the present Galena Street Shuttle, we can’t build it.
“They may interfere with new infill ideas.” They could just as easily enhance infill ideas.
The trolleys “may block future expansion of the very poupular skatepark.” Well, they may not, too. It isn’t built yet, the skateboard park expansion isn’t built yet. One alternative trolley route doesn’t even come near the skateboard park.
And the distortions go on. It really comes down to this: Thirty other cities have found historic trolleys an invaluable asset. Some were built and run privately, some with public funds; all are a success. Please, for the future of Aspen, may I have your vote Tuesday? Thank you.