Beach businesses, concerned about the lack of late evening trolley service for New Year’s Eve, took matters into their own hands this week and raised enough to cover the costs of extending trolley service until 2am New Year’s Day.
New Year’s Eve Trolley Service
On Wednesday afternoon, LeeTran announced that they will offer free extended trolley service on Fort Myers Beach on Thursday, Dec. 31 in cooperation with beach businesses including among others, the Times Square Merchants Association and Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Regular fare service will run until 9pm Thursday. After 9pm, free service will be offered on two routes until 2am Friday, Jan. 1:
-Summerlin Square, (Park and Ride), 11390 Summerlin Square Drive, to Bowditch Park and back.
-Bowditch Park to Lovers Key and back.
Several trolleys will operate on each route to keep waiting to a minimum.
Spearheading the effort to extend trolley service, John Lallo of Pete’s Time Out and the Times Square Merchants and Event Association, told us that it was a community effort.
“It really was a whole community effort,” Lallo said. “I just took the reins, got word out, collected money and reeled it in, you know, somebody’s got to do it.
“We started with the Times Square Merchant Association, then the Chamber matched funds plus we’ve had donors from all over the island step forward to make this happen.”
“We’ll have 7 trolleys so our visitors will be able to get to and from our New Year’s Eve party downtown easily.”
Regular Trolley Service
Through January 6, 2016, the Beach Trolley (Route 400) runs between Summerlin Square and Lover’s Key State Park from 6am-9pm, with the last southbound bus leaving Summerlin Square at 7:35pm and the last northbound bus leaving Lover’s Key at 8:20pm. Buses are scheduled to run every 45 minutes.
Beginning January 7, 2016 and running through April 27, 2016, Route 490 will have three trolleys that will run from Summerlin Square to Bowditch Park between 7am-8:45pm every 15-25 minutes. Route 410 will have five trolleys that will travel from Bowditch Park to Lover’s Key between 6am and 10:20pm every 15-30 minutes. The last Route 410 southbound bus leaves Bowditch at 9:25pm while the last northbound bus leaves Lover’s Key at 9:55pm. All beach trolleys run 7 days a week. Additional LeeTran bus information is available by calling 239-LEE-TRAN or visiting www.rideleetran.com.
At their work session on October 19, 2015, Town Council discussed subsidizing trolley service for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day as well as Memorial Day and 4th of July. Trolley service is provided by LeeTran, a division of Lee County. Traditionally, they have asked the Town to subsidize additional trolleys during holidays and peak season. In October, a majority of council members were not in favor of subsidizing the holiday trolleys, agreeing with the Town staff recommendation to allow existing taxi and other transportation options provide the service. Mayor Anita Cereceda supported subsidizing the trolleys to help alleviate traffic, while Vice Mayor Dan Andre and council members Summer Stockton and Rexann Hosafros did not support the Town paying for more trolley service. Alan Mandel asked to be recused.
The proposed extra service for New Year’s Eve was estimated to cost up to $6559 depending on ridership. The Town would be credited for fares collected. New Year’s Day and Memorial Day costs were listed at up to $5,072 each, with July 4th costs just over $6,000 before deduction of fare revenues.
Lallo told us that the effort to provide New Year’s Eve trolley service raised over $5,000, which would provide 7 trolleys on two routes. Donations were still coming in and he said a full list of donors was not yet available.