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Molly the Trolley


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#1 UncaMikey

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 09:17 AM

You'll notice all the stops are at hotels -- I wish they had something like this geared more to residents. But it's a start, I suppose.

Molly the Trolley

P.S. The name is lame, too, LOL.

#2 RD Milhollin

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 09:36 AM

Yes, the name stinks! But then again, planners have to be careful to avoid the Dallas-style acronym naming scheme (F ort Worth A rea R evolving T ransit) rolleyes.gif

unrelated: The University of North Texas (UNT) judiciously retained the old call letters of thier radio station rather than incorporate the new initials when the school was renamed from North Texas State University several years back. KNTU is 40 years old this year and continues to be one of the best radio stations in the region, especially for jazz fans.

It seems that it might be possible to use a rubber-wheeled trolley to model possible routes for the proposed streetcar route... or that even necessary?

#3 UncaMikey

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 10:00 AM

QUOTE (Prairie Pup @ May 23 2009, 10:36 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It seems that it might be possible to use a rubber-wheeled trolley to model possible routes for the proposed streetcar route... or that even necessary?


Great minds think alike! That's exactly what I suggested over in the streetcar thread -- it may take years to get a streetcar route built and running, and in the meantime we could have circulator buses/trollies to get people used to the concept.


#4 Fort Worthology

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Posted 23 May 2009 - 02:02 PM

The "Downtown Get-Around" line for the Molly is very similar to the proposed Downtown streetcar path, except for the Main Street section.

It won't attract a fraction of the riders a streetcar will, but it's not a bad service to have in the meantime.

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#5 djold1

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Posted 24 May 2009 - 06:00 AM

Some random thoughts on the "Molly" shuttle:

Hasn't a free downtown shuttle of one kind or another been done several times in the past? I seem to remember this over the years. If so, is there any information about whether they gathered any ridership at all?

I personally think that the little buses are grotesque and awkward looking. And they seem noisier than the larger buses. However, they are certainly recognizable if they are mostly dedicated to the shuttle service. I have heard that the "T" has had a hard time over the years really finding anything useful for them to do in terms of increasing ridership or revenue.

The use of the name "trolley" to describe these buses here and in other cities is a total misnomer but it is long past the time when it makes any difference.

I had to laugh when I looked at the shuttle service map.

First, if you look at the traffic direction arrows you will see that the circulation is counter-clockwise. Which means that these little busses will all turn left, all the time. If you know anything about delivery truck dispatching or even if you are just a driver you know that left turns are a lot harder for vehicles like this and that the dwell time at stoplights is much longer since there is no right turn on red.

The service is described as a "shuttle" to get around town. Presumably someone comes out of an office near 2nd & Houston and needs to get over to the vicinity of 14th & Main. The distance by Molly the T is a little over a mile and I would bet that if there is any traffic downtown at all, it would take 15 minutes plus waiting for the bus to get there. Or not. Since the shuttle routes are not bidirectional, half of the destinations take far longer to get to than they should.

But wait!

The map explicitly shows that the stops are at Hotels only. So the downtownista can't just flag a Molly at the nearest corner. Many of the stops are over 4 blocks apart. So the potential user that offices at a midpoint must hike a couple of blocks or more in the drizzle, the 106 degree afternoon sun, or the 20 degree windchill blue norther to get free transportation. Hmmmm.....

Oxy Trolley Morons..

I'm sure there was some reason that the Hotels were designated as stops. Some transportation planner in a flash of inspiration devined that Hotels are destinations that visitors use. Therefore, visitors might find Molly the T a useful way to get to and from the entertainment and shopping delights that abound around them. Good planning. Except that ol' Molly just stops at other Hotels that are only vaguely near the Convention Center and Sundance & the Bass Hall. And what about the visitor with business or other interests up around the Courthouse? Or the T & P and Post Office buildings?

A disconnect in the wiring..

Well OK. Hotels are destinations that warehouse visitors. How do most of the visitors get to these Hotels? Mostly they drive in and park. But there is a considerable number of potential visitors that have access to the TRE, intercity bus lines and of course the cattle car operators we call airlines. Fort Worth is actively working on getting desirable alternative ways to bring in visitors that don't involve automobiles. Millions were invested in the Intermodal Center and the old T & P station to accomodate and facilitate this kind of travel.

Look at the map again. In the great tradition of the current but slightly moribund Fort Worth Streecar plan, Molly the T totally ignores potential ridership to Hotels and businesses from the Intermodal and the T & P sources by deliberately distancing itself from them. So it's take an un-free cab to your Hotel from the IT or the TP particularly if you have luggage. And we do want those with luggage because it implies that they may stay and spend a while.

Is this incredible or what? The Super Bowl business is already on its way within the year.

If the plan is to stop at Hotels, doesn't that indicate that visitors to Fort Worth are important? So why are we not making it easy to get to the Hotels in every way possible?

Now the response will be that we've gone off topic. This is just a simple shuttle using ugly buses to get around the central business district. You're right. That is probably the correct response.

But to my mind it also indicates that the idea of a simple all-day shuttle is also off track (pun intended) with its doubtful destinations and its lack of flexbility in terms of getting on and getting off. Just because Molly the T is "free" doesn't mean that it isn't costing the taxpayers something. And I think that this service needs to produce somethiing tangible in ridership within a reasonable period of time to prove its usefulness.

Are there any past records of how well these shuttles have done in the past in Fort Worth, if they existed? Or how simple shuttles have worked in other cities in almost exactly similar situations? It would be good to know.

Or is this just another not-so-cheap "image" thing?

Pete Charlton
The Fort Worth Gazette blog
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#6 NThomas

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 11:22 AM

QUOTE (djold1 @ May 24 2009, 07:00 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
...The map explicitly shows that the stops are at Hotels only. So the downtownista can't just flag a Molly at the nearest corner. Many of the stops are over 4 blocks apart. So the potential user that offices at a midpoint must hike a couple of blocks or more in the drizzle, the 106 degree afternoon sun, or the 20 degree windchill blue norther to get free transportation. Hmmmm.....

...I'm sure there was some reason that the Hotels were designated as stops. Some transportation planner in a flash of inspiration devined that Hotels are destinations that visitors use....

It's because a.) the Omni & Sheraton are contributing to pay for it, b.) Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. & the FW C&VB are chipping in too, so I imagine all the other hotel wanted in just not as bad a the 1st two, c.) Sundance Square is on the list of stops because it's a contributor too.

These things will only travel as far as the money to keep them running will.

#7 AndyN

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 02:04 PM

(I was in the middle of posting this when the forum got hacked. For awhile, I thought it was my fault that it crashed)

I am thinking about starting a hamburger stand. I don’t have the money for a hamburger stand right now, so I am going to start by selling prepackaged cookies. If the cookies sell well, then I know the hamburger stand will be successful. But, if nobody buys my cookies, then I know for a fact that the burgers won’t sell.

That’s about the same logic as testing the modern streetcar line with a bunch of buses tarted up to look like an old streetcar.

Www.fortwortharchitecture.com

#8 djold1

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 07:02 PM

QUOTE
It's because a.) the Omni & Sheraton are contributing to pay for it, b.) Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. & the FW C&VB are chipping in too, so I imagine all the other hotel wanted in just not as bad a the 1st two, c.) Sundance Square is on the list of stops because it's a contributor too.


Yes I read all the stuff about who's supporting it. No splits were given on the participation but it ends up that some of the money is taxpayer generated. My main question is simply: What is this really supposed to do? What's it really for?

It is simply that the whole plan is so poorly conceived and so limited that it looks to me like it has little chance of being useful to visitors and it certainly is not very useful for the downtown workers. Do the supporters have the extra bucks to throw away on stuff like this in times like these? Is there any published proof at all that this kind of circulator works? Do we care?

The trolley lunch service and the weekend Stockyards service are entirely different. They are purpose driven for specific riders to specific destinations. Whether or not they generate any ridership or not, they at least seem to have a specific purpose and plan.

The downtown shuttle loop does not appear to have any real focus at all.

Another thought: This little round n' round operation is all about visitors if the Hotels, etc. support it. Interestingly enough, the Fort Worth Streetcar plan and it's downtown "circulator" looks about the same, and was deliberatly conceived to cherry-pick at great expense the picky "choice" (their word) or "elite" (my word) rider in the near urban "villages" and place them into the circulator to get them to work downtown. The Streetcar Plan definitely & specifically avoided enticing visitors at non-automotive pickup points like the IT or T & P that might offer possible access to the unwashed of any stripe.

The new little shuttle still banishes service from these areas even though now the emphasis IS on visitors and obviously visitors do come in through the public transit portals. Except they aren't offered a free way to get to their downtown lodgings or Sundance, etc.

Is there really any rational reason for a so-called service like this?

Pete Charlton
The Fort Worth Gazette blog
The Lost Antique Maps of Fort Worth on CDROM
Website: Antique Maps of Texas
Large format reproductions of original antique and vintage Texas & southwestern maps
 


#9 FoUTASportscaster

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 05:51 AM

^Why do you think no one wants to walk? You say the modern streetcar line doesn't serve the ITC. It is two blocks away on the preliminary maps. This isn't the burbs, it is an urban setting which encourages walking.



#10 vjackson

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 09:23 AM

QUOTE (FoUTASportscaster @ May 28 2009, 06:51 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
^Why do you think no one wants to walk? You say the modern streetcar line doesn't serve the ITC. It is two blocks away on the preliminary maps. This isn't the burbs, it is an urban setting which encourages walking.

I can see this maybe being a good idea to get to the Stockyards or Kimball, but DTFWis relatively small and compact, few places downtown are not just a quick walk away from hotels and offices. I really don't see the need for it..in DTFW anyway.

#11 Fort Worthology

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 10:41 AM

QUOTE (vjackson @ May 28 2009, 10:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I can see this maybe being a good idea to get to the Stockyards or Kimball, but DTFWis relatively small and compact, few places downtown are not just a quick walk away from hotels and offices. I really don't see the need for it..in DTFW anyway.


There's still plenty of land to develop in Downtown Fort Worth, and the development that streetcars tend to attract wouldn't be a bad thing to have at all.

And frankly, the "too small" thing doesn't do it for me. The Pearl District isn't that big, either, but the streetcar there is *packed* with people riding perhaps 4-6 blocks at a time. I've seen it, done it, got the photos and the T-shirt, so to speak.

(Lest we forget, it's not just Downtown that this is about, either.)

- Architecture/urban planning/transit blogger, Fort Worth Weekly

Fort Worth District 9 Zoning Commissioner


#12 vjackson

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 11:36 AM

QUOTE (Atomic Glee @ May 28 2009, 11:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There's still plenty of land to develop in Downtown Fort Worth, and the development that streetcars tend to attract wouldn't be a bad thing to have at all.

And frankly, the "too small" thing doesn't do it for me. The Pearl District isn't that big, either, but the streetcar there is *packed* with people riding perhaps 4-6 blocks at a time. I've seen it, done it, got the photos and the T-shirt, so to speak.

(Lest we forget, it's not just Downtown that this is about, either.)

Streetcars and light rail do encourage development, but that's not what Molly the Trolley is. It's more a shuttle service. The Pearl Distict (wondeful area btw) is served by an actual street car that connects to the Portland Rail System, right? IMO, that's hardly a comparison to Molly. Let's not say streetcars will bring development to FW until we see some actual lines laid an/or actual streetcars.

And my comment to DTFW's size wasn't mean to be an insult. Just that I don't see why anyone would wait 15 minutes or more for a bus to get from the Rennasiance Hotel to the FW Convention Center. It's an easy short walk...same to the Bass, Water Gardens, and most restaurants downtown.

#13 FoUTASportscaster

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 12:26 PM

I think we are all talking two different things.

Djold1 is referencing both. I believe the post indicates that the circulator will not work because the stops aren't great and there is no connection to the train station. I interpret another point as the streetcar proposal is less than ideal because there is no connection to either commuter rail station.

I am referencing the streetcar when I say why do you assume that no one wants to walk the two blocks, or 1/10th of a mile.

VJ says that Molly is useless because DTFW is small and that circulator won't attract riders.

Atomic says that streetcars will attract riders and help develop the empty parts of downtown.

Correct me if any of that is wrong.

#14 Keller Pirate

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 12:36 PM

QUOTE (Atomic Glee @ May 28 2009, 11:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
There's still plenty of land to develop in Downtown Fort Worth, and the development that streetcars tend to attract wouldn't be a bad thing to have at all.

And frankly, the "too small" thing doesn't do it for me. The Pearl District isn't that big, either, but the streetcar there is *packed* with people riding perhaps 4-6 blocks at a time. I've seen it, done it, got the photos and the T-shirt, so to speak.

(Lest we forget, it's not just Downtown that this is about, either.)

I have marveled for years about the development the streetcar supposedly attracted to the Pearl District. How do we know the streetcar wasn't attracted by the development?

Here is a recent story from Portland that seems to fulfill the prophecy of their favorite son, Randal O'Toole.

http://www.kgw.com/n...s.204df994.html

Yes, they are only cutting bus routes and light rail frequency, not the streetcar, but can that be far off?

Here is how they are going to make up some of the losses,

Bill would make Portland a testing zone for 'congestion pricing'
The bill will introduce a “congestion pricing pilot project” in the Portland metro area. A state report from the Oregon Department of Transportation indicates that metro drivers could potentially be charged “to use certain roadways during periods of high congestion.”

The project may ultimately take Oregon closer to taxing drivers on how many miles they drive instead of how much gas they purchase. Details: Taxing mileage, not gas

ODOT said the congestion pricing could be accomplished “either through an independent electronic system using roadside readers, or as a rate adjustment to an electronically-collected mileage fee, or a combination, for time-of-day travel in specific geographic areas where congestion prevails.”


So many cities want to follow Portland's example without looking at what has happened to them, why do we want to indebt ourselves and head toward the future they have created?
Sorry 360 and Prairie Pup, the guvmint is still going to get a pound of flesh from you and your high milage vehicles. Not to mention track your where abouts.




#15 FoUTASportscaster

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 12:54 PM

QUOTE (Keller Pirate @ May 28 2009, 01:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have marveled for years about the development the streetcar supposedly attracted to the Pearl District. How do we know the streetcar wasn't attracted by the development?

Here is a recent story from Portland that seems to fulfill the prophecy of their favorite son, Randal O'Toole.

http://www.kgw.com/n...s.204df994.html

Yes, they are only cutting bus routes and light rail frequency, not the streetcar, but can that be far off?


So your contention is that, during these economic times, it is unusual for any agency to have a budget shortfall, to cut bus routes, rearrange other bus routes, and cut frequency of train service? I fail to see what is so odd about that, since every transit agency is making those kind of decisions right now.

The buses that were cut were the least used, other bus have been rerouted to cover some of the area and the trains that were cut serve off-peak hours.

The streetcar didn't get the ax because its ridership per mile is one of the highest in the system and its subsidy per passenger is one of the lowest. You don't cut one of your most used services.

Plus quoting O'Toole won't help your case. He is a paid voice for anything involving roads and cars. I wonder what conclusion his "research" will wind up with if Exxon, GM and MaxCrete funds it.

QUOTE
Bill would make Portland a testing zone for 'congestion pricing'

...

Sorry 360 and Prairie Pup, the guvmint is still going to get a pound of flesh from you and your high milage vehicles. Not to mention track your where abouts.


Well the gas tax is getting useless, increasing it is politically impossible, toll roads are unpopular and the public believes the roads they use are free. What is your suggestion? They have to be paid for some way. I'm not sure I like being tracked where I go, but the money for these free roads has to come from somewhere. Given those parameters, I'm curious as to your solution.

Personally, I'd like to see a repeal of the gas tax and a conversion to toll roads for all Interstate and U.S. Highways. Set up a fund from that money strcitly for maintenance of those roads, and another for all transportation capital projects. However, that isn't within the parameters above. Maybe, not sure however, but maybe a repeal of the gas tax would make it more possible.

#16 gdvanc

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 11:45 PM

QUOTE (vjackson @ May 28 2009, 12:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
And my comment to DTFW's size wasn't mean to be an insult. Just that I don't see why anyone would wait 15 minutes or more for a bus to get from the Rennasiance Hotel to the FW Convention Center. It's an easy short walk...same to the Bass, Water Gardens, and most restaurants downtown.


Some of us would certainly make the short walk if waiting for the bus and then riding to the stop might actually take longer than walking. On the other hand, don't underestimate the tendency toward laziness of a significant portion of the population; I've seen people idle their cars for a ridiculously long time waiting for a parking spot close to the store. If they can wait in relative comfort, many will wait. Even those inclined to walk might ride if it is very warm or cold or wet, if they are laden with packages or luggage, or if they are traveling with children. Will there be enough riders to make this service sensible? Beats me.

#17 gdvanc

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 12:05 AM

Here's a prediction: if Molly is successful, then those against funding a streetcar can say that a streetcar isn't needed as Molly has demonstrated that the buses can handle the demand just fine; if Molly is unsuccessful, then those against funding a streetcar can say that a streetcar isn't needed as Molly has demonstrated that there is insufficient demand.

Andy implied1 above2 in his hamburger/cookie analogy that Molly is not a valid predictor of the potential success or failure of a streetcar because there are too many fundamental differences in these two transit solutions. Even if this is true, it won't matter in the <cliché>court of public opinion</cliché> where this case will be tried when public support is needed for funding a streetcar.



1- My interpretation; Andy please correct me if I've mis-interpreted or if you are actually considering opening a burger joint.
2- Or below, depending on how you sort these posts.


#18 djold1

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Posted 31 May 2009 - 09:18 AM

The shuttle muddle....

In my opinion, anyone that equates the Molly to a streetcar shuttle starter system is not thinking clearly. Molly the T is nothing but a simple, quasi-privately financed, limited access, CNG powered, single direction, closed loop system of limited scope and limited utility and limited potential. Its success or failure has no bearing on any future transit plans that might involve street rail, monorail or even horse cars.

My best guess that the Molly shuttle will quietly disappear from view without public notice within a year and the Molly fleet will return to east Lancaster and the storage lot.

And for what it's worth, a rail based streetcar shuttle system constructed and operated under the exact same closed loop, limited access conditions as the bus shuttle would have exactly the same problems and limitations. That's ignoring the huge construction and startup costs of a rail system as well. And please don't tell me that the construction costs could be rationalized because it could or would be the beginning of a larger city-wide system. That's a politcal response that hardly ever works in the real world.

In spite of all the above I do think a shuttle loop system could be useful in downtown Fort Worth since it is very tourist oriented and since there are a large number or downtown workers and those who live there. However, doing it involves a little analysis of what a shuttle is really for and an open mind as to the equipment used.

After runnng the equations through a TRS-80 Model I supercomputer, I find this definition of the task and its solution:

The massive computer study concludes that as a definition a closed loop downtown shuttle is ideally designed to move humans and perhaps the occasional leashed animal from one point on the loop to another as a convenience. The utility and efficiency of the shuttle will be a factor of how easily accessible it is to the most likely users and the ease of entry and exit at convenient points as well as offering a transit time between two points that is measurably faster and easier than walking. Other factors include the initial cost of equipment and maintenance as well as the cost of fuel and the operator cost.

With this information in hand, it is time to define the ideal equipment that meets all the specifications. Since we are working from a blank page, the consideration of already available, marginally useful equipment will be ignored in spite of any potential political repercussions.

Since the ideal shuttle will pick up, from closely spaced designated points, anyone that wants to move from one stop to another, this dictates that the entry/exit time must be as fast as possible with safety. Therefore the best possible solution would be a low level, close to the street, direct entry to four-across seating rows without having to navigate isles or entry/exit points. This implies that the vehicle be almost entirely open on the curb side.

To accomodate varying traffic loads the passenger cars or vehicles should be able to run in multiple connected units (Articulated is the current buzz word). For simplicity these mostly-open, easy-access articulated cars will be moved by a fully cabbed locomotive power unit with air conditioning and other amenities for the operator. This locomotive section might be styled to suggest the latest modern streetcar look, or perhaps something with a Panther motif. It would be powered by a well muffled CNG engine or perhaps a hybrid electric/CNG combination or maybe a fully electric battery system which would be recharged with a plug-in socket at each participating hotel. We're not talking about a lot of horspower here.

This solution meets all the requirements of a truly open and accessible closed loop shuttle system that offers easy access to all the establishments and delights of downtown Fort worth that are close to the route.

How can this system be implemented quickly? My best suggestion would be to go to Six Flags and see where they get their parking-lot shuttle sets and to see if they are available a higher trim level.

Pete Charlton
The Fort Worth Gazette blog
The Lost Antique Maps of Fort Worth on CDROM
Website: Antique Maps of Texas
Large format reproductions of original antique and vintage Texas & southwestern maps
 


#19 JKC

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Posted 02 July 2009 - 01:24 PM

Molley is currently exceeding the "T's average daily ridership for bus routes, or so I heard yesterday. Given that it is half price to the "T" with its' private sponsorship, it appears to be a pretty good deal for everyone.

#20 Austin55

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 04:32 PM

Molly begins charging Sunday. Signs are up in the bus windows. $2 one way or $5 all day.

 

http://www.star-tele...e166648592.html



#21 John T Roberts

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 04:54 PM

Cheapskate John will walk!



#22 Austin55

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 05:00 PM

Cheapskate John will walk!

 

I'm with ya. It's often faster to walk as well. Unless you are staying at the Sheraton or Omni or have mobility issues I don't see much use in Molly.



#23 Now in Denton

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 05:19 PM

I guess the only free rides is the jury duty bus.



#24 rriojas71

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Posted 11 August 2017 - 08:15 PM

Does anyone think that adding the new fare is a way to deter the homeless people from using the Molly. The last time I used it there were several of them on it and unfortunately when I got on I noticed a strong smell and I had to get off immediately because it was so overpowering.

#25 PeopleAreStrange

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 03:11 PM

As Austin may know, Molly is a good option when traveling across downtown with a group of people (at least when it's free). Not everyone can walk across downtown easily.

 

But yes, Molly is slow, and ridership seems low. I'm thinking Molly might die soon because of this fare increase.


- Dylan


#26 Electricron

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 07:51 PM

Anytime a service of any kind is provided free, it is unappreciated because the general public thinks it has no value. 

I'm strongly in favor of charging a heavily discounted fare rather than giving away free rides, at least the service maintains some of its original value..... ;)

 

Take the Grapevine Vintage Railroad as an example. Admittingly it's target audience are tourists and not commuters. The cheapest fares it charges are $18 for a Grapevine to Stockyards round trip.  It even has smaller fares for shorter round trips. It's valued by its customers because it successfully sales tickets for the train regularly. 



#27 Austin55

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Posted 21 September 2017 - 10:25 PM

Through the grapevine,I have heard Molly is in the process of being returned to being free. Not sure of a source of that funding (don't believe it is the T doing it though) or a timeline of the return of free rides.

#28 John T Roberts

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Posted 22 September 2017 - 07:50 AM

I hope so.  Remember, I'm cheap!



#29 Jeriat

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Posted 23 September 2017 - 01:23 AM

Through the grapevine,I have heard Molly is in the process of being returned to being free. Not sure of a source of that funding (don't believe it is the T doing it though) or a timeline of the return of free rides.

 

Like the Chargers going back to L.A., this was a bad decision that should have never happened in the first place. 


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