South Main business off track without trolleys

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- South Main shop owners said business is bad since the Memphis Area Transit Authority pulled the trolleys off the tracks.

The South Main Association said some business sales are down thirty to forty percent, and some shops are barely hanging on.

MATA said the trolleys need work after the feds blasted them for the lack of repairs, no safety training and failing basic safety guidelines.

MATA refused to give WREG a date on when they'll be up and running.

All they would say is consultants and engineers are working on the trolleys right now, and then federal and state agents will have to sign off.

They also are having a hard time getting some parts, because the trolleys are up to a 100 years old.

Shop owners said the longer it takes, the worse it will get.

"About two weeks after we opened, the trolleys were pulled off," said Vera Stanfield who manages Red Velvet Vintage in the heart of the South Main district. "My customers ask a lot:  Are the trolleys running or have the trolleys come back yet?"

Two trolleys caught fire in less than a year, so MATA pulled them off the tracks temporarily replacing them with green buses.

The South Main Association said it's hurting business, because tourists are unable to find the artsy neighborhood.

"Because it's so tucked away, a little bit, from the rest of downtown, so people would jump on the trolley and ride from the middle of downtown to the little, cool pocket of stuff down here," said Stanfield.

The Lawlers are visiting from North Alabama and were disappointed there was not any trolleys.

"I saw the tracks, but we have never been on one before," said they said. "We were surprised coming down the street, and we get up here, and it's nice."

Shop owners said if the trolleys aren't back by next Spring, in time for the peak of tourism season, it won't be pretty.

The South Main Association said it is working on running more events like Trolley Night on the last Friday of every month and Mimosas on Main every Saturday.

4 comments

  • Cary Miller

    It seems crazy that the Visitors Center does not actively promote South Main more. I tell every tourist I meet about South Main and all its restaurants and shops, and they are wide-eyed and interested. How hard can that be? We need more Memphis ambassadors and a focused and organized effort to sell all the neighborhoods Downtown. More signs pointing to the North Main neighborhoods and the South Main area. More advertising in print publications nationally AND locally. Most Memphians in the suburbs are clueless about the 28,000 people happily calling Downtown home.

    • Downtowner

      WRONG! Onix, Cheesecake Corner, and Christyles Celebrity Salon are owned by black individuals. That is just off the top of my head. Get a new schtick or actually learn about something before you criticize it.

  • Realist

    Memphis can’t raise taxes enough to keep up with the need for more money. Too many people taking instead of paying into the system. You can bet even though the city is dying slowly the “for profit” politicians won’t take a pay cut and stop the hiring of cronies on the taxpayer’s dime. Taxing and spending at it’s finest!! The trollies are not running now simply because they don’t have the money for them and are not a priority. There’s not enough voting returns from money spent on projects such as these.

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