More than 4,700 visitors arrived on the first two cruise ships of the 2023 season to dock in Prince Rupert on May 3 and 4. Each passenger had the opportunity to partake in the city’s most recent tourist attraction offered by the new Olde Time Trolley Company.
The wheel-chair accessible, 36-seat red and green street cars are ringing the trolley bell of interest as they trundle around the city.
The fleet of eight trams and staff of 18 are bridging a transportation gap in the city, says James Warburton, owner and operator of the trams.
“It was identified that (there was a lack of) transportation connecting tourists to see the best parts of Prince Rupert (with) a way to explain why Prince Rupert is a good place to live..”
The trolleys were one of those unique experiences that ticked all the boxes, where there’s something interesting to ride and that can tell a story.
“You can transport people wherever they need to go, to connect on the tour or to another destination,” he says, adding the shuttle service will also deliver people from various parts of town.
Warburton said the search for trollies started in Ontario and took him to Chicago, where a trolley company had folded during the pandemic. The trollies were in good shape and were admissible to Canada through a “fairly simple” import process. He went looking for four land vessels and came home with eight.
The aluminum body trollies were built by the Molly Corporation on a 2008 Ford motorhome chassis and are capable of travelling at highway speeds. The Old Time Trolley Company is the second owner of the vehicles.
Because the vehicles had been sitting for a while, some updates were required, such as new brakes and tires. To pass federal and provincial inspections, the signage inside the buses needed to be bilingual. They also painted the outside of the trollies, sanded and re-varnished all the bench seats.
“New new audio equipment was added as well to make sure there’s good quality microphones so the tour can be delivered properly. We took out anything that was faded and old looking and just put in some nice new looking touches to make them look shiny.”
For the month of May, the touring trams will be available just on cruise ship days to vessel passengers. However, in June, they would like to be open every day and include the public.
“It’s not just for cruise ships. We plan to be open to tourism and in between the cruise ship days as well. So we’re working out a way that we can sell tickets and schedule all that,” Warburton says, adding ticket prices still need to be determined.
He plans to expand the tours with the trollies available for special events and private functions and said there has already been inquiries about wedding transportation. Also in the works for later in the summer is the design and scripting of a second tour delving deeper into the darker side of Prince Rupert’s history.
“We just really want this to help develop Prince Rupert as a destination for tourists because I think there is so much to offer here. It’s a special place. When you come back to Prince Rupert, you choose to be here, so you just look at it in a totally different light.”
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