One ride on the Jolley Trolley is all it takes to understand its appeal.
When Cathy Frain and Chuck Shaw come to visit relatives every year, the Jolley Trolley is always on their to-do list. They like to ride the trolley and use it as a means of getting around to sightsee, shop and dine along its route.
“We love the trolley,” Frain said.
Residents and tourists alike enjoy trolley rides up and down Clearwater Beach, and to Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs on the . Riders soon can ride in air-conditioned comfort, as the Clearwater Jolley Trolley recently purchased a specially designed tram.
“We wanted to have the ability to have an open trolley on nice days and a closed or air-conditioned one on other days,” said Bob Longenecker, trolley chief executive. But "we have always struggled, from our maintenance perspective, with the air conditioners being hooked onto the engines.”
The trolleys’ 10-cylinder engines are capable of handling the demands of the air conditioner but end up with power problems as a result, Longenecker said. To solve this, trolley staff resorted to using the original manufacturer, Molly Corp., to create the new, modified trolley, Longenecker said.
“We asked them to install a generator onboard,” Longenecker said, “similar to what an RV would do. Now [the air conditioners] do not impact the engine power at all. They run off the generator only.”
The new model is the first trolley of its kind, Longenecker said. It is set to begin running in early November, and it will be rotated between the coastal and beach routes.
Trolley driver Ron Goodman is excited to drive the new trolley. Goodman has been with the Jolley Trolley since 2005, after driving for 32 years in Philadelphia.
Goodman said working for the Jolley Trolley is nicer and less stressful than being in a busy city. It also allows him to get to know his passengers, and he enjoys hosting them during regular hours or for private charters.
Tom Kelly, a Clearwater resident since 1993, uses the trolley to run errands and make small deliveries for his wine-importing business.
“As long as I’m on the trolley, I’m happy,” Kelly said. “It’s economical, and it stops anywhere.”
The newest model, replacing the retired No. 7 bus, arrived from Maine two weeks ago, making it the 12th trolley.
The new trolley won’t be used until ads have been installed on the exterior, Longenecker said.
In the meantime, No. 7 is already booked for private charters.