Mayor Glenda Hood's administration has long pegged a downtown rebirth on the arrival of high-end residential housing. That point was made clear again with the recent decision to start running a "trolley" between upscale downtown apartments and the city's lagging Farmer's Market starting in September.
The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) approved $3,000 for the pilot bus service program, which will connect the ailing Saturday morning market with presumed stops at Parkside by Post, Echelon at Cheney Place and the under-construction Waverly at Lake Eola apartments (which boasts a $9,000-per-month penthouse). All of these places received millions in CRA construction subsidies ("Your tax dollars at work," May 24).
A trolley-style bus, which carries up to 34 passengers, will debut with a three-month trial run. Riders will be charged 50 cents for a round-trip fare.
Several CRA advisory board members were skeptical that the trolley would bring more customers. "I don't see Waverly residents as shuttle riders," said Bob McClelland, the board's secretary.
Daisy Staniszkis, the program's coordinator, said she'd eventually like the service to expand to reach a less affluent clientele. "It's a question of cost. We'd love to have a shuttle that goes north, south, east and west. But we have to concentrate on where our core customers are."
Staniszkis told board members the Farmer's Market, which has operated since 1989 at Church Street at I-4, has drawn fewer vendors and customers in recent months.