"This is the kind of project I like--I spent no time on it, and the city spent no money," Mayor Kathy Taylor said at downtown McNellie's in downtown Tulsa last week, drawing laughter from the crowd gathered for the introduction of the brand new T-Town Trolley.
The service embarked upon its maiden voyage last Friday at 9pm, starting its half-hour loop through downtown Tulsa, Brookside and 18th and Boston.
The free trolley will now run every Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9pm to 2am, making continuous round trips with seven stops every 30 minutes: 3rd and Elgin near McNellie's, 18th and Boston, the Crow Creek Tavern on Brookside, Sharkie's and the Empire Bar at 15th and Peoria.
"The whole purpose of this is to create synergy between all our entertainment districts," said Blake Lund of Blake Promotions, LLC, a.k.a. "T-Town Trolley."
"This is the kind of thing that will keep downtown revitalization going," the Mayor said, referencing the upcoming opening of the BOK Arena in September, as well as other ongoing developments downtown.
"The addition of a trolley system will give people a new reason to visit our venues as well as advance Tulsa's development into an urban city filled with vitality and energy. It will help us showcase Tulsa as a cool place to live, work and play," said Shane Fernandez, chairman of Tulsa's Young Professionals.
For the first two weeks, instead of the actual trolley, the "T-Town Bus" will be used to shuttle clubgoers around the loop, after which time the trolley will be used.
Both vehicles seat 27 people.
Lund said marketing considerations are behind the initial use of the "party bus."
"We decided to use the bus to start it out because it's real radical looking," he told UTW.
After the trolley is in full operation, Lund said the bus will be used for excursions from the loop for special events, such as Oktoberfest and attractions at the BOK Arena.
There is only one trolley at the moment, but Lund said he hopes to eventually have three trolleys running, with an expanded loop that includes Riverwalk in Jenks.
Tulsa is now the third city in Oklahoma with a trolley system, but unlike Oklahoma City and Edmond, Tulsa's trolley is free to ride, although passengers will need to redeem a token from one of the clubs or restaurants along the trolley's route.
While it's free for passengers, as Mayor Taylor indicated in her comments, the city isn't paying for it, either.
Lund owns and operates the trolley, which is financed through private sponsorships, including Anheuser-Busch Sales of Oklahoma.
Also, Urban Tulsa Weekly is the media sponsor for the new system.
Along with "creating synergy" between Tulsa's entertainment districts, Lund said the trolley system will also help to mitigate traffic congestion and parking issues along its loop.
"We expect visitors to Tulsa to hop on the new form of transit with no misgivings, but we acknowledge that individuals accustomed to driving from club to club may find it difficult to change that habit," he said.
"However, the T-Town Trolley will be more than just a way to get from point A to point B. It will be its own destination--a mobile, happening party we hope everyone will give a chance," he added.
A rolling party it might be, but Lund said alcoholic beverages will not be allowed on the trolley, since that would require a liquor license.
Rather, energy drinks will be available, and there'll be plenty of adult beverages available at stops along the route.
Also, Lund said he's contracted with local cab companies to await customers at stops along the loop near the end of the trolley's nightly rounds, so as to prevent passengers driving under the influence at the conclusion of their tour of Tulsa's entertainment districts.
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