Baltimore company bidding for trolleys would raise fares

September 23, 1990|By Cindy Harper-Evans

The city's pocketbook may rest a little easier with the proposed transfer of its money-losing trolley operation to Yellow Transportation Services, but the wallets of the Baltimore Trolley Works riders will be pinched in the deal.

Yellow Transportation, which is the operator of Yellow Cab, Yellow Bus Service and the Baltimore franchise of Carey Limousine, would raise the standard fare of the trolleysfrom 25 cents to $1, company president Mark Joseph confirmed yesterday.

"We want to make the trolley self-sustaining and profitable, and the only way to do that is to raise the fares," Mr. Joseph said.

Yellow Transportation was chosen in July over four out-of-town bidders for the trolley line, and Mr. Joseph said he has been negotiating terms of the agreement since.

The price and whether the agreement centers around a lease or purchase has not been decided, Mr. Joseph said.

Since 1985, when the 13 buses -- which resemble turn-of-the-century trolleys -- were put into service under then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer, the city has been subsidizing the system's operations.

For the current fiscal year, the city expects to contribute $318,200, but that includes $125,000 for a new trolley.

In addition to raising fares, Mr. Joseph said Yellow Transportation will conduct a feasibility study on the trolleys' present routes and schedules.

The trolley system has two routes from the Inner Harbor -- one to Fells Point and the other to Pennsylvania Station. The system was designed to take tourists to and from attractions, but it has become popular with the downtown lunch crowd.

"We intend to enhance service so that demand will grow," Mr. Joseph said. "We want to make sure times are reliable, the ride is safe and entertaining, and the value is good."

Mr. Joseph also wants to offer a promotion he has dubbed the "Passport to Baltimore." For a set fee, passengers get a tour-oriented package with discount coupons for area attractions and stores.

"These trolleys can be a great marketing tool for the city," Mr. Joseph said. "If we can bring more people to Baltimore, all of us will benefit."

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