If you've spent any time in Downtown Sioux Falls in the summer chances are you have seen the old-timey trolley that carried passengers throughout the center of the city.

The Trolley has been a staple of the revitalized downtown Sioux Falls atmosphere for years. I've ridden in the Downtown Trolley many times. We even secured the Trolley's services for my daughter's wedding reception to transports guests between their hotel and the wedding venue.

Unfortunately the Trolley's time may have come to an end. The Board of Directors for Downtown Sioux Falls has decided to no longer operate the downtown trolley service due to lack of funding and support.

DTSF stated that over the past four years they have assumed responsibility for operating the downtown trolley service when the City of Sioux Falls began to phase out the service.

The City has retained ownership of the trolleys, while DTSF has funded and marketed the service, including contracting with Stellar Limousine to operate it. This arrangement has become financially unsustainable.

“The trolley is such a beloved part of downtown Sioux Falls, which made this decision difficult. When DTSF has to reinvent the funding model each year for the trolley, and still deliver valuable programs and services for our downtown stakeholders, something had to give,” said DTSF President Joe Batcheller.

DTSF has been responsible for funding the downtown trolley service in its entirety for the last two years. To reduce expenses, a $1 fare was introduced in 2015. Fare box revenue has covered between 16% and 19% of the operating costs for the past few years.

In 2016, much of the trolley service was funded through pledges from businesses and individuals. The hours of service were also reduced to limit operating expenses. Last year, DTSF used funds provided through the Main Street Business Improvement District to cover a majority of the operating costs.

After surveying downtown stakeholders and adopting a new strategic plan, the DTSF Board determined that the dollars spent operating the trolley should be redirected to other areas that have greater impact for downtown businesses, property owners and residents.

Batcheller adds that, “Ultimately, it didn’t make sense for DTSF to be in the transportation and tour business. There are other organizations that specialize in that work that could operate the trolley as a unique visitor experience, like you see in other cities, such as Nashville or Anchorage.”

Should a third-party come forward with a plan to operate the trolley service in downtown, DTSF would assist with marketing and promoting the service through its communication channels. If anyone is interested in re-establishing and operating the trolley service, they may contact the City of Sioux Falls Transportation Planner for more information at 605-367-8890 or STrebilcock@SIOUXFALLS.org.

It'll be sad to see her go.


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