Residents in York County can look forward to a fresh new ride around town.
On Tuesday, York County officials announced they would be updating their fleet of trolleys with a new state-of-the-art trolley that will feature an “infotainment” system, adjustable air vents on each seat, a stabilized chassis system, and a tracking program that indicates the trolley’s location and estimated time of arrival at various locations, according to a news release from the county.
“This new trolley is the first on the Peninsula to deploy an interactive tracking system,” said Josh Green, fleet manager in the county’s public works department. “The system allows visitors to watch the trolley’s progress along its route to help determine when it will arrive at their specific stop.”
The tracking system, SPOT ETA, is currently available as an app for smartphones and can be downloaded through the York County website.
Green said he believes it will become an indispensable addition to the trolley system because it will allow the county to issue alerts on-screen if the trolley needs to be rerouted, such as it had been during the 4th of July or the Sounds of Summer concerts.
“With this new tracking system, visitors don’t have to wonder if they’ve just missed the trolley or if it will arrive in a few minutes,” said Darren Williams, waterfront operations supervisor in the Tourism Office. “Also, the map is interactive, meaning anyone utilizing it can tap on a featured location such as a museum and a pop-up will appear with hours of operation, admission fee, and so on.”
Green said the current trolleys are starting to “age out of service” and needed to be replaced, so using this new technology would help enhance passenger experience and improve gas mileage, and reduce maintenance issues. It cost approximately $350,000 as part of the county’s Capital Improvements Program.
In addition, the infotainment system will project pre-recorded programming about Yorktown’s attractions and events, while displaying concert and market dates in between programs.
“This system is geo-activated based on location,” Williams said. “The system can be programmed so that as we approach an attraction, the infotainment screens will show announcements about that attraction. We’re excited about the possibilities this brings to us to improve visitors’ experience.”
Williams said they expect to see an increase to ridership with the new trolley which is already at approximately 90,000 passengers a year. This new trolley will seat approximately 34 passengers.
The new trolley was constructed by Hometown Trolley using Freightliner’s new StabiliTrak Chassis, which is the first of its kind that blends the commercial and RV chassis.
Green said that’s a breakthrough in transit operations because the trolley will now have better stabilization. Riders will experience minimal movement when the trolley takes a corner and they will feel fewer bumps along the route. It will also make the trolley quieter than ever before so it will be more pleasurable for guests when it passes by on the street as well.
The heating and cooling air vents on each seat are features the county hopes to eventually include on all future trolleys as parts are replaced through the regular maintenance schedule.
“The Yorktown Trolley has become an attraction by itself,” Williams said. “There is no cost to ride it and people often hop on the trolley to learn more about the town, determine the attractions they’d like to visit, where they would like to dine, and so on.”
The second Yorktown Trolley does not yet have SPOT ETA and infotainment systems, but the county plans to equip it with these features by the spring of 2020.
“We wanted to build this trolley with the future in mind and, with the trolley’s 10- to 15-year useful life cycle, we believe we are utilizing technology that will take us there,” Green said.
This new trolley is the result of a partnership between the Department of Public Works’ Vehicle Maintenance Division and the Community Services Department’s Tourism Office.