Trolley Follies and Monorails and buses disguised as Trolleys
As many of you know, I live in Hershey, the sweetest place on earth. When Milton Hershey (still regarded around here as 'alive' and deep consideration is given to 'what would Mr. Hershey want') built the town, he installed a trolley to get workers from around town to his factory.
The trolleys went out of service after WWII. Most of the in-road tracks were removed and all the overhead lines went. The trolley barn was shut up and most of the trolleys were dismantled or repurposed.
The Derry Township Historical Society has a subcommittee devoted to restoring the trolleys. We do have trolley system of sorts in town and have for years. The trolleys are actually diesel buses disguised as olde-timey trolleys and tourists pay generously for a tour of the Highlights of Hershey while riding the trolley.
Today was a fund-raising open house at the trolley barn. I got to speak with many earnest, eager citizens who >want< to see the trolleys revived and run all over town again, just like they did in Mr. Hershey's time.
At the same time, they don't want to interfere with cars in any way.
It was a frustrating conversation for me. I would ask about money and infrastructure and the earnest speaker would discuss how green it all was. Even better than building extensive tracks into the existing road was using only overhead lines to run electric trolleys. Best of all was ... wait for it .... a MONORAIL.
A monorail could be built to connect the various hotels with Hershey Park, the Tanger outlets, downtown's restaurant row, the Hershey theater, the stadium and Giant Center, etc. etc. etc. The monorail would soar high above the traffic on the streets and not get in anyone's way.
When I asked about funding, the conversation immediately turned to the convenience and how no drivers would be inconvenienced by having to wait behind a trolley, like they do right now behind UPS trucks and garbage trucks.
I suggested diesel buses disguised to look like trolleys using the existing infrastructure of roads. Then, when anything changes, the route could be easily updated. The system could start with one diesel bus disguised as a trolley and see if it worked rather than spending tens of millions of $$ to build a monorail.
Am I crazy to think that when we as a township can't afford to maintain the infrastructure we already have, we shouldn't be building exotic new projects like Monorails?
Covid-19 shutdowns have destroyed the township's budget for 2020 and for the foreseeable future. The pandemic is proving that we can't assume that tourism will always be there and the money will flow forever. Yet, somehow, it's better to build a Monorail than purchase and operate a few buses disguised as trolleys and see whether or not people will actually use them.