Raleigh Trolley 101

The trolleys cruise around downtown every weekend but I get the feeling that most are reluctant to ride because of the lack of info. Well allow me to try and sort the trolley situation out and point you in the right direction. Downtown Raleigh has two different trolleys; the showtime trolley and the historic Raleigh trolley tour.

Jump straight to the city’s website for their breakdown

Showtime Trolley

The showtime trolley is great for those that are pairing up dinner and a show at the performing arts center. This trolley is in a bit of a funk however; the trolley cannot go down Fayetteville St. because of construction. Take a look at the route and see if you can use it during your next weekend excursion.

Historic Raleigh Trolley Tour

The historic tour runs every Saturday and for a small fee, you can ride around downtown while brushing up on your Raleigh history. The narrated tour is about 45 minutes long starting on the hour between 11 am and 2 pm. There are 6 stops along the route for you to board. The city even has a video about the tour.

Thoughts

A couple things I noticed that could make this experience better:

You are asked to flag down the showtime trolley when you want a ride. I think if it stopped at certain destinations no matter what, it would be more inviting and people would actually ride.

There should be space cleared for the trolleys to stop. For example, the picture below shows the City Market stop. Three parking spots use up a great space that could be a trolley stop. Get the cars out of there when trolleys are running and have them pull right up to the curb.

The routes desperately need better signs; more of them also. The signs look small, cheap, and just like all the other parking/traffic signs out there. There is lots of room for creativity here. For example back to my city market picture, the historic trolley stop is on the left and the showtime is on the right. Get rid of them and hang a nice sign from the awning. We could then place a tasteful map nearby, just like the map that is out there of city market (that needs a makeover by the way but that is for another day).

As for the ride itself, I still have not experienced it for myself. Please comment if you have been on one of the trolleys.

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2 Comments

  1. I think that the trolley is a great feature for our downtown and I wish we had more nice routes on a daily basis. Naturally, we cannot expect trolleys to be ultra popular, since Raleigh is not exactly the kind of historic/touristy city that everyone wants to see, but even so, it is a great feature. Maybe in the future, as the number of downtown residents increases and the convention center visitors pour into our city’s core, we’ll see higher demand for trolley routes

    Several years ago, when they first introduced the trolley to the public, my wife and I used to take it and move around downtown during the evenings. It was a great way to experience downtown and an even better promotional effort for our city’s nightlife destinations.

    Thanks for the useful information, Leo :)

  2. The trolleys could be great for movement in and around downtown if they had better routes and people knew more about them. I’m surprised that “Showtime” route doesn’t include Fayetteville Street, Glenwood South nor Seaboard. That seems like some really big misses there.

    In addition to capturing those three hotspots, I think it’d make a lot of sense to have a trolley that also linked downtown with adjacent residential neighborhoods. Have a stop each in Boylan Heights, Cameron Park, Brooklyn/Glenwood, Oakwood, Pilot Mills & Mordecai, (maybe later add Blount Commons), to link people more with the businesses.

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