Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Entertainment Loop Follow-up

I have had a few more thought on the subject of the downtown circulator.

If the route described in my last post(or something like it) is adopted, then the businesses that benefit from its service should have some say in how it is branded. My first thought was for the stores and restaurants along the route could distribute cards for discounted rides, much like the parking tags from the garages that we are used to. Then I remembered that there is no fare to begin with. But there must be a way to gauge the effectiveness of the trolley on the downtown businesses.

While in Whole Foods the other day I saw their "wooden nickel" campaign where they let customers donate to their favorite charity by donating a wooden nickel. Something similar could be done for the trolleys. A set of tokens could be prepared for any business which wants to participate, each entity having its identifying number, then allowing their patrons to essentially vote for the trolley by dropping their token into the farebox. The tokens are then counted and the businesses with the highest number of patrons for the month get some promotion by Lextran or some other type of benefit out of the trolley. It would also allow for ridership breakdowns and friendly challenges

The Mayor has said that he would like to see the trolley given some sort of "branding" to make it stand out in the minds of the riders, especially the tourists. It needs to be some sort of fresh idea and, I would hope, much more different than the typical "vintage" things that they had previously. I am, by nature, a history buff and enjoy perusing old photos, but if we can't do better than the last weak attempt at trying to stylize a regular streetcar, I think that we ought to stop right now.

As I have stated before I wish for a modern, steel-railed streetcar and believe that one can be placed downtown. There are now systems being developed that allow for the trams to be powered without overhead wires, using inductive coils to power the motors. These systems are currently being tested in France and Germany and appear to hold great promise.

I will leave you with these last questions.
Are the European engineers better trained than ours?
Do the Europeans and the Australians know something that we don't?
Are their cities better than ours or their history better than ours?
If they can do it , why can't we?

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