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