Main Street trolleys’ return delayed until 2018

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The downtown trolleys are running late and won't be back this year as planned, the Memphis Area Transit Authority said Monday.

MATA has pushed back the date for the vintage trolleys' return to Main Street until April 2018. The agency had said the trolley would be up and running by the end of 2017.

MATA said only three trolley cars have been fully rehabilitated, but six are needed to restart regular service. Some rotted wood was discovered on the others, according to the Iowa company doing the work.

Some areas of the track and overhead catenary wire also need repair and federal and state safety inspections must be performed.

Gary Rosenfeld, CEO of MATA, sais in a statement that while the news disappointing, the change in timing is directly related to ensuring that all trolley cars are operational and meet safety standards.

“Since this service means a lot to the Memphis community and given the issues that occurred previously which caused us to shut the system down, we aren’t taking any shortcuts. While we understand that the community may be disappointed that the service must be delayed until April 2018, it is our hope that when it does finally return, the community will be proud in the trolley cars that we have diligently and meticulously restored to be the safest in the nation,” Rosenfeld said.

Vintage trolleys were put in service on Main Street and Madison Avenue in the early 1990s and 2000s. They were taken offline in 2014 after a series of fires and safety issues for an overhaul.