Transit authority approves purchase of Detroit trolleys |

Transit authority approves purchase of Detroit trolleys

Jeff Munson

Detroit’s loss may be Lake Tahoe’s gain.

The Tahoe Transportation District on Friday authorized the purchase of up to two trolleys from the Detroit Department of Transportation.

The trolleys have about 50,000 miles on them and were retired from a transit program in Detroit, said John Andoh, BlueGO transit administrator for the South Tahoe Area Transit Authority.

The deal came about because the Tahoe transit authority is a grantee with the Federal Transit Administration.

New trolleys are valued at about $400,000 each. Under the agreement, which must now be signed off by the Detroit department, Tahoe will get at least one trolley for about $28,000. If the second trolley is available, the cost of both cars would be $57,000.

Each car was built in 2000 and should be able to run smoothly for at least 12 years, Andoh said.

If the purchases are finalized, the newer trolleys will replace the older, gasoline-powered Nifty 50. The Detroit trolleys would begin running as soon as arrangements are made to pick them up, Andoh said.

The Detroit trolleys run on compressed natural gas, “so they are environmentally friendly” and are Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, Andoh added. The current BlueGO Nifty 50 trolley was built in 1995 and is out of ADA compliance because the wheelchair lift doesn’t work, Andoh added.

The Detroit trolleys are enclosed and can be used year-round on other BlueGO fixed routes or for special events, he said.

“Trolleys are a wonderful pastime that are being brought back to many communities such as South Lake Tahoe where they are a part of public transportation again,” Andoh said. “These vehicles bring the joy and excitement out of young and old alike, and help attract those normally not interested in public transit to ride it.”

Meanwhile, as Tahoe awaits word back from Detroit, BlueGO’s Nifty 50 trolley will begin service for the season beginning May 24.

The service will operate two routes. Route C runs between the South Y Transit Station and Stateline Transit Center. Route D runs from the South Y Transit Station via Tahoe Valley Campground to D. L. Bliss State Park, where connections can be made to the free Emerald Bay Shuttle for travel to Tahoe City.

Trolleys will operate seven days a week between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. every hour. Daily service ends Sept. 13. Weekend service will continue through Oct. 5.

Nifty 50 fares are $2.50 one way or $5 for a Day GOPass valid on all BlueGO fixed route services.

Pick up a Nifty 50 Trolley schedule on board buses or at major points of interests, visit or call (530) 541-7149 for more details. For more information, call (530) 541-7149, or visit the BlueGO Web site at

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