Trolley group wants a say in the cars’ fate |

Trolley group wants a say in the cars’ fate

Janet Urquhart

Some members of the company that was formed to put trolleys into service in Aspen would like a say in what happens next to the neglected, unused cars.

If Aspen doesn’t want the historic trolleys, the Aspen Street Railway Co. should have a role in finding a city that does, according to Jon Busch. He is in the group of locals that imported the cars to Aspen from Portugal in the late 1970s. They eventually organized as the railway company with hopes of seeing the trolleys put to use in town.

City officials have concluded running a trolley line in Aspen isn’t practical, and the City Council last week voiced little enthusiasm for a proposal to have the cars refurbished for display as immobile artwork around town.

Council members said they’d rather get rid of the trolleys and see them put to use somewhere. Railway company members concur.

“I think we accept the city is not interested in using them for transit,” said member Bill Dinsmoor. “My hope is that we’d find someone who could use them for that purpose. I’d like the corporation to be the conduit to help them find that new home.”

“I’d like to have some say as to where they go,” Busch agreed. “Our goal would be to at least see that they are placed in a city that really wants them and will use them. If we don’t recognize them as a treasure, others do.”

Busch shakes his head in frustration over the fate of the cars he helped import to Aspen. The group’s hope – that the cars would be put into service on a set of tracks as a unique form of in-town transit – still has merit, he believes.

“I just keep thinking it would be perfect for Aspen. It ties right in,” said Busch, who said he has seen the popularity of the old-style transit in other cities. “People hop on for no better reason than just to hop on,” he said.

“I still kinda hold out that in time, Aspen will recognize it.”

The trolley cars, which have been rotting away in outdoor storage virtually since their arrival in Aspen, now belong to the city. Busch and his cohorts eventually sold them to the late Michael Hernstadt, who donated them to the city.

Whether they have any sale value in their current, dilapidated state is difficult to say, said Dinsmoor. “I think they’re very valuable, but I think it’s very hard to sell their value,” he said.

“If a community really wants them, they’re priceless,” contended Busch. “If a city doesn’t want them, like Aspen, then they’re worthless.”

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