This is the first look Memphians are getting at one of the rubber wheeled trolley buses that will be running on Main Street soon temporarily replacing the regular buses which replaced the vintage steel wheeled trolleys. Albeit the general manager of the bus system says this is one of the “ugly ones” and promises others are more attractive. The Memphis Area Transit Authority has ordered eight of these vehicles. Four are scheduled to arrive in September, although MATA hopes one or more will be in service here in August. “We’re pushing hard,” for early delivery, said General Manager Ron Garrison. Each of the buses cost $147,282 and is designed to carry 28 passengers. The MATA board has approved an option to buy up to 12 additional trolley buses but the transit system is hoping to get the steel wheel trolleys back in service sometime in 2016. They were removed from the streets in June, 2014, after two of them caught fire.
MATA officials say it would take 4 to 6 months from today to get a steel wheeled trolley back in service due to a multitude of certifications that have to be obtained once the machine(s) are rehabilitated. They are hoping much of that can be done while work continues on fixing the trolleys and perhaps by the first of the year, 2016, it would take only a month or two of additional testing and certification to get one of the real trolleys back carrying passengers. But they warn, any timetable is full of detours which could mean a longer wait.