By the 2018 tourism season, a free trolley could be shuttling residents and visitors between major attractions on Hilton Head Island.
Palmetto Breeze Executive Director Mary Lou Franzoni says a federal grant could help bring the service to the island that has struggled with transportation issues, specifically on its south side.
Preliminary plans call for a trolley to travel between Shelter Cove and the Coligny Beach area, Franzoni said. She said it would have the possibility to connect to a trolley system used within Sea Pines Resort.
“We think it would attract tourists and visitors who don’t want to drive,” Franzoni said. “It could be used to shop, play miniature golf or even grocery shop.”
The trolley would be closed and air conditioned, she said.
Trolley plans came following a recommendation from the Town of Hilton Head’s Circle to Circle Committee. The committee was charged with finding solutions to traffic headaches in the Coligny region.
Jim Gant, chair of the committee, said the idea of a trolley rose to the top of the list as one of many solutions to ease traffic in the area. Other options including marketing lesser-used beaches on the north side of the island.
“The general reaction from the public (for a trolley) was positive,” Gant said. “The reaction was positive because it would reduce traffic through the Sea Pines area circle.”
Tommy Hawk, a Hilton Head resident, said a trolley could be positive for the island in a lot of ways.
“I think it is a great idea,” Hawk said while hanging out at Coligny park Monday.
A trolley could not only reduce traffic but also provide a service that would liven up the island, he said.
Franzoni said it could take about 12 months to finalize plans, including establishing exact routes for the trolley along with what type of trolley will be used. Operating costs for the trolley could be between $100,000 and $400,000 annually, she said.
A portion of the capital and operating costs could be covered by an additional $750,000 Palmetto Breeze expects to receive from the Federal Transit Administration annually, based on a population increase in Beaufort County from the 2010 U.S. Census, Franzoni said.