Authority halts trolley funding for showgoers
by Rachel Miller
September 27, 2013 01:07 AM | 3094 views | 8 8 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Tour guide Audrey Griffies welcomes Chelsey Dubelle and her mother, Joyce, of Kennesaw, for a guided trolley ride around Marietta in June. A city agency charged with downtown development will stop paying to shuttle people to musical theater shows at the Cobb Civic Center after they dine on the Marietta Square. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Tour guide Audrey Griffies welcomes Chelsey Dubelle and her mother, Joyce, of Kennesaw, for a guided trolley ride around Marietta in June. A city agency charged with downtown development will stop paying to shuttle people to musical theater shows at the Cobb Civic Center after they dine on the Marietta Square.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
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MARIETTA — A city agency charged with downtown development will stop paying to shuttle people to musical theater shows at the Cobb Civic Center after they dine on the Marietta Square.

When the Atlanta Lyric Theatre company moved from the Strand Theatre to the Civic Center on the corner of South Marietta Parkway and Fairground Street earlier this year, the Downtown Marietta Development Authority scrambled to keep theatergoers at downtown restaurants on show nights.

The DMDA paid The Historic Marietta Trolley Co. $4,500 to shuttle people from the Civic Center to the Square for the production of “The Producers,” which ran for 11 shows from Aug. 9 to Aug. 25.

Last month, 247 people rode the trolley, which meant the DMDA paid $18 a person.

The amount of riders would have to double to be a good investment, DMDA Chairman Tom Browning said.

One trolley can hold 30 riders, and the published rate for The Historic Marietta Trolley Co. on a Saturday night is $225 an hour.

“We gave the DMDA a tremendously discounted rate,” said Brian Buckalew, who owns the trolley company.

DMDA board member Dave Reardon, who owns Shillings on the Square, said the problem was not enough people knew about the trolley service.

“If we do it again, we really need to get the word out,” Reardon said.

Buckalew said the number of people using the service grew each weekend, with more than 40 people riding the trolley Saturday nights.

Good for business

Reardon said he compared the earnings of his restaurant to nights when the Lyric was housed at the Strand to when it moved into the Civic Center.

“Number wise, I didn’t see that big of a change as far as money brought in,” he said.

Mayor Steve Tumlin said he took the trolley to a recent show.

“I enjoyed the ride over. It was fun,” Tumlin said.

Buckalew said he was thankful for the trial run.

“Any time we get to participate in anything on the Square, it is fun,” he said.

The Civic Center will host the Atlanta Lyric Theatre’s next show, “Guys and Dolls,” from Oct. 25 to Nov. 10.

The show will go on

Gene Phillips, president of the Miss Cobb Pageant that is every year at the Civic Center, has attended many Lyric productions over the last few years at the Strand Theatre.

Before or after a show, “and even sometimes both,” Phillips said he dines at a restaurant on the Square.

Last month, Phillips used his own car to make the trek from downtown to the Civic Center, but said he thinks the trolley is a good idea and saw people using the service.

Phillips said the stage at the Civic Center is bigger than the Strand’s, and every seat in the auditorium is great.

“I think they can do more with the lighting and the sound,” Phillips said, c comparing the new and old venues.

Allan Kilpatrick, associate artistic director for the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, said “The Producers” was the biggest production in the company’s 33-year history, due to having more room for scenery, set pieces and props.

“A little of the intent with ‘The Producers’ was to show off what we could do in the new venue,” Kilpatrick said.

The biggest audiences for “The Producers” were Saturday nights and Sunday matinees, with close to 500 audience members in the over 600-seat venue, he said.

Comments
(8)
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Hey You, (LOL)
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September 29, 2013
Why not FIX the parking problem on the SQUARE. How can the restaurants on the SQUARE expect people eat there with no parking spaces. It has been this problem for years and NOBODY thought to FIX this problem yet??

And also the OM's who own businesses on the square have always had their hand in the cookie jar of the Marietta city govt.

I live close to the square and NEVER go there!!

Take that, OM's.....
Zzzzzzzz
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September 28, 2013
@Lyric Theater: "Guys And Dolls", really?

Why not "update" your repertoire to something a little more current...like Our American Cousin!

Zzzzzz.
MAY-RETA SURVIVOR
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September 28, 2013
Question: After what they did to Marietta (Mainly Lies!), why should we bew doing the Lyric Theater any favors...especially at OUR expense? Was this just another example of Bill Bruton's "leadership"?
Math. Seriously.
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September 27, 2013
Hey guys. The article is pretty clear that the Trolley is getting paid a hourly fee by the city, regardless of how many people riding it. It's only because no one is using it that it figures out to $18/person. If the trolley was full all the time, as was the plan, the city would be getting a good deal (per person) to bus in customers to the square. That's math!

Read the article thoroughly next time, friends. Don't just scan for reasons to yell "government bailout."

Also, I don't think this a surprise to anyone. Glad the DMDA was wise enough to reevaluate so quickly without feeling like it had to keep funding a failing program.

Itsagreenbus
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September 27, 2013
No wonder the bus is always empty if that's the "tremendously discounted rate". and let me guess the bus stop is right in front of Shillings!
Be Careful
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September 27, 2013
Ha ha. Told you so. If you pull up the old article that first talked about this plan, I commented that this would happen.
anonymous
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September 27, 2013
The nice young couple who owns the trolley needed an iflux of government assistance, did they? Amazing how, when you're running with the right crowd, you get what you need. Glad to see this will end. NOW, do it right....bid out the job. Eighteen dollars per person to ride a couple blocks???? Only when taxpayers are paying!
Pay attention
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October 08, 2013
Did you read the preceding articles about the Lyric pulling out of the Strand and how pissed the restaurants were that they would lose business if the Lyric moved out? It doesn't sound like to me the trolley needs an influx of government assistance, sounds like the restaurants need help getting people there. And as Math said above, have you ever hired a limo or car to take you somewhere? They charge hourly based on the size of the vehicle, not how many people ride. I hired a 12 passenger limo for an event once. The company sent that size vehicle out to get us. Only six in our party actually showed up. I didn't get to pay based on how many rode. If you haven't hired a limo lately, you should check the rates. You might be surprised the cost, and I'm sure that thing holds more than 12.
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