Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Columbia trolley "Spyed" at Columbia Crossing

Columbia Spy happened upon Columbia's new trolley at Columbia Crossing this afternoon.



Columbia's newly purchased trolley was a topic of discussion at last month's borough council meeting. Mayor Leo Lutz praised the purchase saying, "I hesitate to say you bought it, I think you kinda stole it. It was a gift."

A contract between Columbia Borough and SVCC for management of the trolley has been under discussion. At issue in writing the draft contract was determining which entity should hire the drivers and provide the liability insurance for the trolley. Insurance carriers require that the drivers be hired by the entity holding the policy. An insurance representative at the meeting addressed council about the issue.

Kathleen Hohenadel of the SVCC presented the anticipated operating expense figures, including the cost of trolley drivers.  Most likely, two or three part-time drivers will be hired.

Hohenadel stated that the 2016 hourly cost to run the Rivertowne Trolley was $85 and predicted the 2017 hourly cost to operate (Columbia's) trolley to be $31.73. Based on figures presented to council there will be negative net of $2,567.45 the first year of operation.

In addition, children rode free last year but will pay a dollar each this year. The cost for adult riders will increase a dollar as well - to $3.

A new projected use for 2017 is "special uses" for the trolley. No details were presented, since the idea is still under discussion.

Councilwoman Dr. Sherry Welsh questioned why (on the sheet listing items for inclusion in the contract) the borough will not share equally in the profits, but share 50/50 in the losses. The 2017 profits are listed as SVCC 75% and the Borough 25%.

Borough Manager Greg Sahd emphasized that many of the issues are still open for discussion.


The Borough is accepting applications until Friday, May 5, 2017 for a Seasonal Part-time Trolley/Bus Driver. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, valid Class A or B CDL license with passenger endorsement, and a clean driving record. Experience as a school bus driver or public transit operator preferred. The successful candidate(s) will be required to obtain a CDL medical examination/certification every two years by a specified physician. Current pay rate is $12-15/hour after 90-day probation period.

Applications and job descriptions are available at the Columbia Borough Municipal Building, 308 Locust Street, Columbia.



Borough council voted to buy a trolley at its December 2016 meeting.  The trolley is provided by Elite Coach of Ephrata for $39,900. Voting was unanimous among the five councillors present.

The trolley is a 1993 model with 53,000 miles and was used previously by the borough during the Columbia lantern tour. Public Works Director Ron Miller took a test drive/ride for several miles recently and described the vehicle's engine and transmission as "excellent" and presented council with an extensive written report. He called the venture "not a frivolous investment whatsoever." The trolley is air-conditioned and comes with a lifetime supply of vehicle filters. Councillor John Novak said the same trolley in today's dollars would cost $200-250,000 new.

Council had originally planned to employ the services of Rivertowne Trolley Company again in 2017 until a sudden opportunity surfaced to buy its own trolley. The issue normally would have gone through committee before being presented to council, but councillors felt the matter warranted quick action due to other parties interested in acquiring the vehicle. Columbia paid $30,600 last year to rent Rivertowne's trolley.

Councillor Cleon Berntheizel said, "I look at this as an investment in the borough."




37 comments:

  1. Thank god our taxes are going up! Love these toys!!

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  2. "Councillor Cleon Berntheizel said, 'I look at this as an investment in the borough.' "

    And here I thought the point of an investment was to make money. This thing is going to be a bottomless pit.

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  3. Maybe a trolley station at the Columbia International Airport? Got to do something with all that land until Marijuana is legal to grow there. Wander how the borough will impact the value of homes on that end of town. Probably nobody on borough council lives close enough to be impacted, so it really don't matter. School board was already doing a great job at killing home values in town, didn't really need the borough helping with that. Part of leadership is being a good listener, our elected and appointed officials fail at listening to the constituents.

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  4. How does the saying go..." there is a sucker born everyday" columbia is the sucker! A steal they say! I say a mechanical not profit waste of money,whoever wrote the check is happy they blew money on junk, this town is pathetic with spending habits!!!

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    1. Agreed. School board and council. Just spend our tax money and tell us what you bought or gave in cash bonuses without asking the people or proper due diligence. Pathetic!

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  5. A true classic and hard to find in excellent condition like this one...the town conviently saved up to $5,000 in shipping (smart)...The town's very passionate about revitalizing the community for everyone and out of town guests can feel welcome....I hope they store it inside to Preserve all of the wood...."I can't think of a better way to explore and learn about the towns history".

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    1. Saved $5000. Right. After spending $40,000 on a 25 year old bus. Now we have to hire drivers, provide insurance, maintenance etc. Yeah, it's (smart) for sure.

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    2. The trolley will be a good buy if Columbia does a better job of promoting events. Many times, people do not know of events until they are over. Council has to become more business friendly.
      By not promoting events using all forms of media, the trolley will rust away.

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    3. It's a 25 year old truck. It's already rusting away.

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  6. A GOOD purchase for antique charm... revenue TBD... I hope it works out ultimately...give the town a chance

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  7. The town is passionate about revitalizing columbia? When 3/4 of down town is a dump, section 8, or rentals that give 3/4 of police incidents... what is this trolley gonna due drive in circles around 6 antique shops, tell the history of a town that suffers from low income run down homes? Or maybe ride around and look at tree grates that they spent so much on? This town needs a reset button!!!!

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    1. VOTE THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OUT AT THIS MONTH'S ELECTION!

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  8. "The issue normally would have gone through committee before being presented to council, but councillors felt the matter warranted quick action due to other parties interested in acquiring the vehicle."

    Sunshine Law violation!!!! When is this going to be investigated?! It was purchased before taxpayers even knew. We the taxpayers have a right to know where our money is.

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    1. It was decided in an advertised public meeting. As stupid as the idea is it is not sunshine law violation.

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    2. Really? We looked at the LEGAL NOTICES listed at Lancaster Online and were not able to find a notice about buying a trolley "advertised." Maybe you can help Columbia Spy readers and others find it?

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    3. You won't find anything about the trolley, you will find the meeting advertised. The actions that will or may be taken at the meeting do not need to be advertised.

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  9. This decision must be discussed in either Community Development, Public Works or Safety Committees prior to purchase, due to the fact of partnering with a non-profit organization. This was a quick draw decision prior to development of business practice.The taxpayer must have the opportunity to comment prior to confirmation on business venture.
    This Borough Council has found a way to use the LASA $8.5 million and Columbia Municipal Authority $2 million dollars on a $10 million dollar bond to spend on investment. Problem is the investment is low. Best thing Columbia Borough can make on the McGinnis land is leasing it for farmland. I would NOT build on a backstretch of land in a residential area. Now this decision was a Sunshine Act violation.
    Watch the Columbia Market House slowly fade to closing so Borough Council to use the word invest and then spend taxpayers money on revitalization. How many stands have left in the last three months?
    This is all in the plan of Laurel and Hardy!

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    1. You are 100% right on this!! Thanks!!

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    2. Where are you getting this information. There is nothing in the sunshine act or borough code that requires a topic be discussed of sub-committees prior to being discussed at the council meeting. (Ref 65 Pa.C.S or 8 Pa.C.S.) There must be public discussion at the council meeting prior to a vote.

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    3. But, the voteing is where the BIG issue is!!

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    4. It is sad that in the last few months, the number of standholders leaving the market. Council made a big fuss about interviewing people to be a manager. Nothing happened. Council wants the market to be the downtown draw, but sitting by and doing nothing is only leading to it's closing. Then what???
      A few weeks ago, I saw a.tourist bus discharging it's passengers at the market and was thinking, how disappointed they will be if they were expecting a market like Lancaster. If council wants to get the market busy again, stop the lip service and start working on it.

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    5. Expect it to close.....again. Look who was on council the last time it was closed. History tends to repeat itself.

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  10. Just look at this town and where that money could have been used wisely!!!! Drainage problems, road paving and repair, how about ada, handicap ramps at the end of sidewalks that people can actually use??? Not a damn trolley, there are way to many things to use this funding for!!!!

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  11. VOTE THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL OUT THIS MONTH!!!!!!!!!

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  12. I know the boro just bought it, and didn't design it, but that is one ugly fake trolley bus. I guess the builders were modelling it after a San Fransisco cable car with all the unpainted wood?

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    1. You must be proud & comfortable living in the 21st century having all of the modernization and luxuries...some people can appreciate the 19th century example: Wooden streetcars were the main source of public transportation with no air conditioning... the automobile was soon to be invented

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    2. Sigh. I can appreciate the 19th century streetcars. Which is why I believe taking a modern(ish) day diesel bus and throwing some random wood trim pieces and brass railings on it and calling it a "trolley" is, to put it bluntly, stupid. It doesn't look like a 19th century streetcar. It looks like maybe it was designed after a cable car in San Fransisco? Either way, it's all kinds of ugly, and a slap in the faces of designers at J.G. Brill or Cincinnati Car Company.

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    3. Look closer because what I see is solid wood cut,mounted and riveted (not screwed) to a perfect fit and finished with a bevel edge everywhere...I even see solid wood doors with trim, I also noticed the wood is curved to the replica body structure on the outsides and even the Arches are beveled... it Looks to me it's hand crafted in a mill... Maybe some kind of clear-coat aging off but that's just maintenance?... I also noticed more brass than just the twisted carousel rails...there's solid brass hardware everywhere you look...genuine leather hooks to hang onto fastened together by detailed brass rivet screws...even decorative iron brass railing mounts... Looks like a lot of detail went into this design?...Even Victorian decorative blinds were used... I believe the plexiglass can be removed to ride in open-air?... Maybe that's what the solid door is for so they can separate open air from the climate control coach?

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  13. Laurel and Hardy......lol,it is perfect, I LOVE it!

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  14. The problem is that the "discussion" means NOTHING! Once it hits the council meeting it's a done deal. It doesn't matter what residents have to say. Some council members come off sounding very defensive about their projects or whatever it is that they are proposing. Their tone is clear, it's already been decided.

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  15. Council needs to all GO! INCLUDING THE mayor!

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    1. Easy enough to do. Its called an election!

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  16. If you are for or against the trolley, the company the borough bought the trolley from, Elite Coach, has top notch vehicles. Their maintenance and upkeep is excellent, so the trolley should be in great shape. For being 24 years old and 53000 miles, for a bus type vehicle, it is hardly broken in, considering buses can get close to a 750,000 miles in their lifetime,with proper maintenance.

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  17. "All Aboard" pull the Iron Hammer and DING the Brass Bell. let's go!!!

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  18. here's the deal! get rid of about 700 rental properties (there are more than 800 now) create a buy back program with tax initiative to return properties back into single family owned homes. STOP allowing people to keep pourchasing these tax sale and foreclosure properties and turning them into rentals. we already have way way too many. write an ordinance. for petes sake you waste money on dumb shit-this is important. create a tax for ALL tenants 18 and over to contribute. get rid of zoning officer. kudos to new man who is condemninng properties that SHOULD have been condemned 10 years ago. why is helm still on payroll. he';s NEVER in the office and NEVER returns phone calls. enough is enough.

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  19. most excellent points. still trying to figure out HOW the Boro left the zoning officer make a huge decision like Kleen Rite buiding an immense structure and actually not only bringing tax revenue back into town BUT alkso some JOBS. This SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NEVER HAVE HAPPENED. Guessing its NOT the first time people who want to invest inColumbima were PERSUEDED NOT to. someone needs to wise up. COUNCIL.

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