Trolley ridership parallels increased hotel occupancy

The Burlingame Trolley has seen an upswing in ridership, partly because of a new wave of travelers that is increasing hotel occupancy rates.

The trolley, which runs nine hours a day between the Bayshore hotels and Burlingame Avenue and Broadway, has enjoyed a boost of nearly 25 percent in daily ridership since March 2006.

That figure parallels growth in tax revenue from the city’s vast assortment of hotels. The city is projecting $10.6 million in hotel tax revenue for the next fiscal year, up from $10.1 million last year and $6.7 million in the 2002-03 fiscal year.

David Lewin, general manager of Hyatt Regency on Bayshore Highway, said visitors staying at local hotels now are more willing to explore cities they visit.

“The type of business that is coming now that is replacing what Silicon Valley provided are curious tourists,” he said. “I recently had a group of chaplains from all over the county.”

The free shuttle service began about 10 years ago as a means to bring tourists and businesspeople at hotels to Burlingame’s downtown restaurants and shops. Since it started, the shuttle has doubled its stop frequency. Hotels advertise the service.

“More people in the hotels means more people taking the trolley and going to the downtown,” said Jane Gomery, the city’s public works program manager. The trolley’s operating budget of $200,000 is split between the city and hotels, with a small portion funded by merchants along Burlingame Avenue and Broadway.

The trolley averaged 97 riders a day between March 2006 and March 2007, up from 78 riders a day between March 2005 to March 2006, according to Christine Maley-Grubl, executive director of the Peninsula Traffic Congestion Relief Alliance.

Some local residents also use it to access the Bayshore area. Redwood City resident Holly Gayle, who does not have a car, takes Caltrain to the Burlingame train station and catches the trolley to visit her doctor on Airport Boulevard.

“It’s the only way to get there without taking a cab,” Gayle said.

bfoley@examiner.com

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