Sweetwater to get new trolleys

Sweetwater residents who want to head out sans auto will soon have another option: a city trolley.

The city will soon be adding two new large trolleys capable of seating about 32 people.

The new trolleys will be painted in blue and gold and will look similar to those of nearby city of Doral. Each trolley costs about $159,000.

“We got to get cars off the street if we frequent the trolleys going to Dolphin mall or Publix, we will get traffic off congested streets and people will use the transit system more,” said Sweetwater Mayor Manny Maroño.

Maroño said the Citizens Independent Transportation Trust, funded by a half-cent county-wide tax, will pay for the bulk of the trolleys. The CITT funds cover more than the trolleys, including gasoline and the salaries and benefit packages of the drivers, as well as other city-wide transportation needs

The city is required to pay $129, 000 annually toward transportation costs, according to the CITT maintenance of effort mandate.

Maroño said the transportation was a necessity for residents.

“Many of our residents don’t have transportation,” he said. “Many are elderly and we have to cater to them. That’s why we are here for.”

In addition to the county transit buses, the city has a Jitney-style bus seating about 22 people running throughout Sweetwater. Pick-up times are roughly about an hour and a half, but it was intended to run at 45-minute intervals, Maroño added. It has been in service for about six years.

The Jitney will continue operating along with the new trolleys.

Currently, the city transportation has pick-up locations at City Hall, both senior buildings, International and Dolphin malls, nearby shopping centers and residential areas. The two senior centers are the Sweetwater Towers, 10750 SW Fourth St., and Los Robles apartments, 11495 W. Flagler St. Most of the stops are in facilities or buildings. The city will work on redoing a new transit pick-up route and hire multiple drivers. Curbside stops will be considered. Right now, the hours are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., but it could change depending on ridership.

The trolleys are expected to arrive in the city by the end of September.