Home / Business / Jolley Trolley to serve Safety Harbor for another year

Jolley Trolley to serve Safety Harbor for another year

The Jolley Trolley made it inaugural run in Safety Harbor on Saturday, Feb. 1 2014.
The Jolley Trolley will continue in Safety Harbor through September 2016.

Last week, the Safety Harbor City Commission approved renewing its service agreement with the Clearwater based Jolley Trolley to continue the company’s transit service in Safety Harbor for at least one more year.

After that, what happens is anybody’s guess.

While they approved the FY 16 Jolley Trolley service agreement by a unanimous 5-0 vote, members the commission cautioned that if things like ridership numbers and advertising revenues don’t improve, changes could be on the horizon.

“I think the Jolley Trolley is a great concept,” Mayor Andy Steingold said when the item came up during the Sept. 21 commission meeting. “But every time I’ve looked when it goes by, I don’t see anybody riding it,” 

“This is something I was a big proponent for, and I’m still a big proponent,” he added. “I think it’s a great idea in concept. I guess time will tell how it pans out.”

The Jolley Trolley began service in Safety Harbor on Saturday, Feb. 1. 2014.
The Jolley Trolley began service in Safety Harbor on Saturday, Feb. 1. 2014.

Most everyone affiliated with the subject agrees that the city’s Jolley Trolley service, which started its Safety Harbor route in February of 2014, is at a crossroads.

Concerns about ridership numbers, advertising dollars and soon-to-be rising costs (a grant that funds the majority of the service is set to expire next year) have been expressed by officials and merchants since the city renewed the initial agreement last October.

In fact, officials for the newly formed Merchants of Safety Harbor, or MOSH, organization, which replaced the Safety Harbor Chamber of Commerce as an official partner in the agreement this year, have made improving the Jolley Trolley one of their top priorities.

“One of the things we find to be true is…advertising is not going on on the trolley,” MOSH chairperson Mercedes Ofalt told the commission. “We referred to it just recently as the Frenchy’s trolley, because that’s all we see.”

MOSH Chairperson Mercedes Ofalt speaks to the Safety Harbor City Commission on September 21, 2015.
MOSH Chairperson Mercedes Ofalt speaks to the Safety Harbor City Commission on September 21, 2015.

“So we are branding the merchants and taking this as a time to really advertise,” she added. “That is probably one of the biggest obstacles that we see…and that is our main focus.”

Ofalt said the only Safety Harbor merchant to advertise on the trolley is fellow MOSH board member and Tapping the Vine owner Howard Latham.

That lack of advertising revenue is problematic, as according to the agreement, part of the city’s share comes from advertising costs.

(Note: The projected annual cost for FY 16 is $136,000, and it breaks down as follows: $40,000 – FDOT Service Grant; $30,226 – PSTA funding; $30,226 – City of Safety Harbor funding. Of the city’s share, $20,226 comes from CRA funds, $5,000 is paid by the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, and $6,250 is to be paid by the merchants, with $1,250 of that figure projected to come from advertising costs.)

Even more problematic is the fact that the FDOT grant that covers nearly a third of the trolley’s funding is set to expire at the conclusion of this contract, meaning if revenues and ridership don’t increase, the service in Safety Harbor could likely cease.

Merchants of Safety Harbor members rode the Jolley Trolley in August.
Merchants of Safety Harbor members rode the Jolley Trolley in August.

“FDOT is giving $40,000 and PSTA is giving $30,000, but after that three-year period, the three-year grant will be over…and all of a sudden the cost share is going to be potentially different,” Commissioner Cliff Merz said.

“So at that time, it’s going to cost more and make it more difficult to bring people on, because it’s going to cost a lot more for the city and for everybody else,” he added. “So this would be the time to make that push.”

For her part, Ofalt said the merchants organization is going to do everything it can to make the Jolley Trolley service successful in Safety Harbor.

“I’m all for the Jolley Trolley, and there’s ways we can show we’re all for it,” she said after a recent MOSH meeting.

“It’s enhancing our city and enhancing our downtown, and it entices locals and and visitors to come here,” she added. “I don’t think we’ve given it a fair shake.”

Related content:


  1. I love the Jolly trollyI rode the trolly 4 times last year with my grandchildren-they in particular had great fun and smiled the whole time. It was so hard for me to find out exact information of travel times. I was staying at the spa and they could not answer my questions. I finally sat on the bench and it arrived. Perhaps a box at all locations with the schedule or posted. Is it possible to take bikes on the trolly? A place to hook them on the front or back. Also how about a free day-just to get people to try it….Or free trolly coupons?
    Perhaps market it for families-

  2. Love the concept of the Jolley Trolley. Two ideas to make it better. 1. Safety Harbor Resort and Spa should be more familiar with the schedule. My husband’s friends from out of town wanted to take the trolley and were waiting at the spa. They went to the front desk and no one had any idea when it would arrive. They ended up taking a cab. 2. There should be a direct route from the spa to Clearwater beach. I think people would pay more for that. I know I would!

  3. As you know, I totally agree with the two opinions voices above. We need more publicity, more advertising, easier access to tickets and maps.

  4. I’m all for the trolley, but we need people to ride this thing in order for it to continue without those grants.

    There’s basically two places this thing stops – Dunedin and Safety Harbor (sans the mall stop).

    Obviously our merchants don’t want to push people out to Dunedin to spend their dollars. However, why not get into some type of cooperation with the Dunedin Chamber and promote various events promoting both towns – i.e. possibly a day of music at both locations, simultaneous art shows, dinner events, scavenger hunt, or a bar/”poker” hop, etc.

    We also have tons of events coming up (even this weekend – Harbor Sounds) and we should be promoting like crazy over at Dunedin for folks to take the trolley – it’s much safer than anyone risking driving under the influence, and provides a great way to come over with the weather turning cooler.

    If we can get the folks from Dunedin exposed to taking the trolley over here, then we have a chance to keep the trolley stopping here. Come on MOSH, you can do it!!!

    I hope I see this trolley keep coming to Safety Harbor for years to come.

  5. I think ridership would increase if there was someplace to buy passes on the weekend & make sure the purchase location/times are well publicized

    • We’ve lived in SH a bit over 2 years now. The only awareness we have of the Jolley Trolley is when we see it on Main St. There doesn’t seem to be any marketing of the service at all. With a tight budget I have no idea where the funding will come from.

      Perhaps the Chamber and Merchants group could print fliers, get some standers and place the fliers on counters and bars downtown. I know I’ve never heard anybody on Main St mention the Trolley. Maybe the Spa could seriously promote it to their guests if they aren’t already. Maybe some school bands or groups would volunteer (for a pizza or two) to ride the trolley and play to entertain and draw attention to the service. Would that qualify for student community service credits? Maybe the city could provide a tent and the Chamber can supply volunteers to man it on Third Fridays to promote the Trolley. Of course if there is little value to the city or merchants then why bother. Let the Trolley service run it’s course and we won’t miss it when it’s gone.

      While not a regular user I’d hate to see it go away. We’ve ridden it 10 times or so since we moved here. Usually with out of town visitors so they could see the area and we could relax and not drive. If you haven’t taken a Trolley trip you really ought to, it’s fun.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar
Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views : Ad Clicks : Ad Views :