By Laurie Krosney
sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA - A request by a resident to extend the trolley
route up and around Bean Point will probably not be granted.
Manatee County Area Transit Director Ralf Heseler and
Supervisor Mark Beck made a trial run around the north
end of the Island last week from the trolley's northern
terminus at the city pier.
"It's very tight quarters," said Beck.
"There's very little room when the trolley meets an oncoming
vehicle," added Heseler.
This reporter from The Island Sun accompanied Heseler
and Beck around the potential route.
Beck, who was driving the trolley, checked out several
possibilities. He first drove over the humpback bridge
on North Bay Boulevard and headed north to the intersection
with North Shore Drive on Bean Point.
The hump back bridge presented the first challenge. Beck
had to floor the accelerator to get the trolley up and
over the bridge.
Heseler, who was standing on the far side of the bridge
as the trolley went over, noticed the sound.
"Whoever lives just across the bridge is going to be
bothered by the engine noise," he said. "It's quite loud
with the power this trolley needs to get across the bridge."
The trolley proceeded north until it came to the stop
sign at the intersection of North Bay Boulevard and North
There, the vehicle had to make a very wide turn to get
onto North Shore. Just after the turn, the trolley met
an oncoming car. Both vehicles slowed, and both had to
swing a little off the pavement to pass each other. Even
so, the car and the trolley were extremely close as they
The trolley swung around the Bean Point area and proceeded
south. Where North Shore Drive runs along the Gulf just
south of the point, the road curves. In those curves,
which are close together, short and swing from east to
west, the trolley's wheels were on the shoulder of the
road as Beck maneuvered the vehicle through the turns.
"This is primarily a residential area," Heseler noted.
"There are several ground-level houses. The trolley lights
shining in their windows after dark as the trolley maneuvers
these curves will disturb the occupants. The lights will
shine right into the front windows."
The trolleys run every 20 minutes between 6 a.m. and
10:30 p.m. Weekend hours go later.
"It's not usual to run public transportation through
residential areas," Heseler said. "Usually, you run your
routes along the main thoroughfares and in the business
He added that where there is a demand, sometimes exceptions
Heseler, who took his present position of MCAT director
after the initiation of the trolley on the Island, said
it was his understanding that there had been quite a bit
of opposition to running the route around the north end
of the Island.
"My predecessor's report stated that the residents were
overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the trolley out of
this area," he said. "There were also some technical difficulties
with running the route up here, so I wanted to check it
out for myself."
Heseler said that as the earlier report stated, the roads
are quite narrow, the area is exclusively residential
and it's questionable whether or not the bridge can take
the trolley's weight every day, every 20 minutes.
"It's one thing when a large truck goes over the bridge
once in a while, but it's quite different to run the trolley
over every 20 minutes," he said.
Another of Heseler's concerns is what the extension of
the route along the north shore would do to the trolley's
"We certainly wouldn't be able to keep to the schedule,"
he said. "The wait between trolleys would be longer. I'm
not sure people would like that."
Heseler said that during March it's already difficult
to keep to the schedule.
"We have upwards of 3,000 riders a day then," he said.
Heseler said he will study the information he collected
and put together a report for the Island Transportation
"I don't make policy decisions," he said. "My job is
to put the facts together so that the people who make
the decisions have what they need to make informed decisions."
He said he expects the report to be ready within the next
week or so.