The Greensboro Planning Department has released its GSO Implementation Update for the third quarter of 2023.

The implementation updates list highlights of progress the City of Greensboro is making in bringing the goals and visions of GSO2040 to reality.

One of the highlights listed is the Greensboro Transit Agency (GTA) launching the Downtown Hopper Trolley service.  This is pilot program to run free diesel buses painted to look like old time trolleys along a fixed route in downtown Greensboro.

Although the project is the result of the Participatory Budgeting program, only $90,000 of the necessary funding for the pilot project came from Participatory Budgeting. The major source of the funding for the buses, which run from Thursday through Sunday, is $1 million in money freed up by the American Rescue Plan funds, which were dumped into the general fund budget.

The Hopper Trolley service started on July 20 and is scheduled to run through Dec. 31. If the project is deemed successful then the City Council will have to find about $2 million a year to keep free downtown bus service running.

The Greensboro City Council was repeatedly cautioned about spending ARP money for ongoing expenses, which is one reason the free downtown bus service was deemed a pilot project.

The implementation update also notes that Chief Sustainability Officer for Greensboro Shree Dorestant, who was hired in June 2022, saw a huge increase in her staff when the 2023-2024 fiscal year budget went into effect on July 1.

If Dorestant was lonely in her first year in office, she shouldn’t be any longer because the new budget added 10 positions to her office.

The four focus areas of the Office of Sustainability and Resilience are energy management, environmental compliance, sustainability planning and education and outreach.

The report also notes that GTA is creating a new public transit plan for Greensboro. The initiative, named GOBORO, is to start with a blank slate, review existing transit demand and need and design a network that meets those needs long term.  The plan is scheduled to be completed in March 2024.