Saving New Year’s Eve Trolley Service

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On Monday, December 28th, I received a text from a councilperson, “Are you aware there are no trolleys running New Years Eve?”

My reply was, “Are you kidding me??”

After some back and forth texting, I asked for a bottom line number and a LeeTran contact –I’d try to work some magic.

Well, the LeeTran contact I was given was on vacation till Wednesday and the back-up contact went straight to voicemail. Now we had a serious dilemma.

I was about ready to throw in the towel when I received a call from Lee County Transit Director Steve Myers. I told him my intention to order $1500 worth of extra trolley service, since I could only speak for the monies I had available at that time from the Times Square Merchant and Event association. Steve told me he and his staff were already dreading the complaints that were sure to result from the lack of adequate public transportation on New Year’s Eve, after our town has supplied this silently for 20 years.

(In October, Town Council opted to not subsidize holiday trolleys for New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July.)

Last year there were 9 trolleys running on New Years Eve island wide and Park and Ride from Summerlin Square with an estimated cost of $6600. After a very thorough talk with Steve, we didn’t know how many drivers he could get to commit to drive so we started small and he worked on a proposal for me.

As I awaited his proposal I called Bud Nocera, President of the Ft Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce. He listened for 30 seconds and acted as quickly as I had, matching our $1500 and sending a mass email to Chamber members asking for donations. By the way, Bud was on vacation when he took my call.

I then sent a text blast to all the beach business contacts I’ve made over the years explaining that there would be no trolleys after 9:30pm on New Year’s Eve. It would be a disaster if we could not get people back to their cars at Summerlin Square after the fireworks and asked that community leaders and business people step up to help fix this quick. The more money raised – the more trolleys.

Our community responded. Four hours of phone calls, emails and texts later, I was able to get 5 more trolleys to run during the prime hours from 6:30pm-2am, plus the two core service trolleys would run until 2 am also, so we had 7 trolleys running until 2am – two less than last year, but with less than 36 hours til New Year’s Eve, it was the best Steve could do for us.

The business community donated up to $5700. The final cost of the added trolleys has not been billed to me yet, but I’m confident that I’ve raised enough money to cover the trolley costs.

The businesses that contributed to this community-wide effort are:

Times Square Merchant and Event Association

Ft Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce

Kilwins

Sunset Beach Tropical Grill

Lahaina Realty ,

Best Western Beach Resort

Pier Peddler

Local Color

Winds

Mango Bay

Outrigger

Mango Street Inn

LaOla

Thank You all for sharing the vision of what makes Ft Myers Beach a class destination and a special kinda community!

And now, about trolleys for 4th of July and next New Year’s Eve…we have to fix this. Trolleys to bring people to and from our downtown area for special events like fireworks should never be overlooked again.

John Lallo

Owner, Pete’s Time Out

VP Times Square Merchant and Event association.