The Greensboro Transit Agency (GTA) has announced that the free Downtown Greensboro trolley service, which was launched on July 20 and was scheduled to end this month, will be extended to June 2024.

The trolley service is provided by four diesel buses painted to look something like old trolleys and was launched as a five-month pilot project. The trolleys run up and down Elm Street noon to midnight Thursday through Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

According to Mayor Nancy Vaughan, the trolleys have proved popular and are averaging about 1,500 riders a week.

The pilot project was funded with $90,000 from Participatory Budgeting and $1 million from the General Fund money that was freed up by American Rescue Plan (ARP) dollars. The Greensboro City Council took all $59.4 million in ARP funds and allocated them to the General Fund. By doing this the city didn’t have to follow federal spending guidelines for the ARP money or the financial reporting requirements.  But it does mean that all the ARP money has been allocated, so the city is now allocating general fund dollars that were made available by the influx of $59.4 million in the General Fund.

Since the cost to operate the downtown trolley service for five months was estimated to be $1.09 million, it would appear that an additional million dollars or so would be needed to extend the trolley service from January to June.

However, Vaughan said that because the estimates for operating the trolley service were based on running the trolleys seven days a week and that was reduced to four days a week and shorter hours, the initial $1.09 million in funding should be sufficient to pay for the service through June.

To fund the free downtown trolley service past June 2024, the City Council will have to find a million or so dollars in the 2024-2025 fiscal year budget.