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Modern Trolleys Could Get Riders Back On Track

Technical and electrical problems led to MATA shutting down parts of Memphis' trolley lines. Years later, a more modern fleet of streetcars could help reopen the Riverfront and Madison Avenue lines.

John Lancaster, Chief Development Officer with MATA, says that when the system was fully operational, the Downtown trolley system had more than a million riders annually.

But the current fleet of trolleys — restored antiques that are more than a century old — are difficult to maintain. MATA is now testing a vehicle that — vintage 1980s — could modernize the fleet enough to see the Madison Avenue line come back into service.

However, there are no immediate plans to create a trolley link between Downtown and Overton Park/Overton Square.

Reporting from the gates of Graceland to the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Christopher has covered Memphis news, arts, culture and politics for more than 20 years in print and on the radio. He is currently WKNO's News Director and Senior Producer at the University of Memphis' Institute for Public Service Reporting. Join his conversations about the Memphis arts scene on the WKNO Culture Desk Facebook page.