On Thursday, July 20, the Greensboro Transit Agency kicked off its downtown trolley service.

The trolleys are actually four 2009 diesel buses that have been painted to, kind of, sort of, look something like an old trolley.

These buses painted to look like trolleys will provide free rides up and down Elm Street from Carolyn Coleman Way on the south to Fisher Avenue on the north. At both the south and north ends of the route the buses will make a little loop.

At the north end the trolleys will come back up Eugene Street to Smith Street with a stop at LoFi Park.  At the southern end of the route the trolleys will turn off South Elm at Hamburger Square and travel down Martin Luther King Jr. Drive to Carolyn Coleman Way and then turn north on to South Elm Street.

The trolleys will operate Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to midnight and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. With four trolleys operating on a short route, it is estimated that a trolley will be by each stop about every seven minutes, and they will stop at just about every block.

The downtown trolley service is theoretically a Participatory Budgeting project. However, the trolley service is only receiving $90,000 from Participatory Budgeting funds, and $1 million in general fund money (that would be your tax dollars) freed up by the American Rescue Plan funds that were all dumped into the general fund budget, which allowed the Greensboro City Council to spend the money however it wanted without having to follow federal guidelines or financial reporting requirements.

The $1.09 million will fund the trolley project for about six months. The pilot project is scheduled to end in December 2023.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan recently questioned the wisdom of starting the trolley service, since the American Rescue Plan is one-time money and, if the trolley service is successful, money will have to be found to continue the program.

Participatory Budgeting is supposed to fund $100,000 worth of projects in each of the five City Council districts, but the downtown trolley is considered a citywide project not a district project.