Schaumburg to renew trolleys through holidays

Schaumburg officials Tuesday plan to grant a short-term extension to their Woodfield-area trolley service through the holiday season in hopes of being able to sign another long-term contract in the spring.

The village has been working to balance the visitor appeal of the iconic trolleys with their financial cost, Schaumburg Transportation Director June Johnson said.

But after a major renegotiation last year that led to Pace Suburban Bus taking on more of the maintenance costs, this week's transportation committee meeting on the issue was nowhere near the soul-searching moment trustees faced about the trolleys' future in January 2010, Johnson said.

A contract extension from Sept. 30 through April 30 now awaits the full village board's vote on Tuesday.

The seven-month extension will see an hourly rate increase from $69.35 to $71.33 per hour — raising the annual cost from $267,259 to $268,741.

Johnson said the benefits of the short-term extension are that it avoids a brand-new contract right on the eve of the trolleys' busiest season, and that it will align future contracts with the village's own fiscal year.

From Pace's perspective, the extension is necessary to develop contract bids with potential operators of the vehicles. The current contract is between Pace and Schaumburg-based First Transit.

Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson said there is much evidence of the trolleys' importance to visitors to the Woodfield area at the heart of the village's commercial district.

“That's our golden goose, and certainly the trolleys are an investment in that golden goose,” Larson said.

For seniors, the disabled and those without access to vehicles of their own, the trolleys are a valuable resource in moving among the landmarks of the area such as Woodfield, Streets of Woodfield, the convention center, IKEA and Roosevelt University, he said.

Though the level of service has been reduced by about 80 percent over the last five years, the trolleys still provide between 25,000 and 30,000 rides per year, officials said.

The trolleys currently operate from noon to 9 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

During the holiday shopping season, the trolleys are bumped up to seven days a week, when they closely mirror Woodfield's hours.

One of SchaumburgÂ’s Woodfield area trolleys makes a stop at Streets of Woodfield. Photo courtesy of the village of Schaumburg