LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Lee County will move ahead with plans for possible expansion of the trolley service to and from Fort Myers Beach, which usually is clogged with traffic during visitor season. Lee Tran, the public transit service, will attempt to get money from the federal government to design and plan the expansion.
"This is our future. We must get people out of cars and into public transportation," said Commissioner Ray Judah. "We just have to find a way to do the trolley expansion that is reliable and effective, and has the support of the beach elected leaders and of the businesses along San Carlos and Estero Boulevards."
Lee Tran says right now, trolleys carry only 4 percent of the visitors to the Beach. 96% drive in their vehicles. The transit service hopes to increase the trolley percentage to 10 and possibly more.
"We are looking at ways for the trolleys to move without further delaying traffic. We are looking at a trolley only lane on San Carlos, and possible some pull-over bays on Estero, so the trolleys would pull off and let people on and off," said Mike Horsting of Lee Tran. "We have studies showing that more trolley use would cut out hundreds of thousands of metric tons of carbon from being released into the atmosphere."
However some people who've dealt with beach traffic say trolleys are a lost cause. "They absolutely hold up the traffic, they jam things up," said Harriet Hahn, who lived for 15 years on the beach. "They ought to find some other way than trolleys if they are that concerned about getting people on and off the beach."
Lee Tran is hoping to get grants from Washington for more studies and designs. There is no estimate of how much an expansion might cost, or how long it might take.