Tuscaloosa Trolley serves UA students, local residents

The Tuscaloosa Trolley, operated by the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority, has served the UA campus and Tuscaloosa’s downtown area since 1971. 

A version of the Tuscaloosa Trolley has been around since 1915, when it began as an electric streetcar.

Streetcar service began in 1883 when Tuscaloosa’s first horsecar trolley pulled by mules and mustangs arrived. “The Dummy,” a steam dummy train that began in 1888, operated until 1915 when the street rail was electrified. By 1923, the Tuscaloosa Railway and Utilities Company sold the electric trolley line to Alabama Power Company. In 1941, the electric streetcars transitioned to the bus system and continued to be operated by the power company until passenger service was discontinued in 1942.

The UA bus route is free and runs its course twice an hour, including stops at the Federal Building, the Strip, Bryce Hospital, the Student Recreation Center and nearby apartment complexes. One of the primary features is the connection of the UA bus terminal to the downtown terminal. Other routes cost riders $1.

“We began this route with a cooperative agreement between us and UA Transportation as a great way to connect downtown to the campus,” Tuscaloosa Transit Director Russell Lawrence said.

The TTA is subsidized by the Federal Transit Administration, which allows for its low or nonexistent rates. As of fiscal year 2017, the transit service ridership averages were approximately 30,000 riders per month between the Tuscaloosa Trolley and bus service. 

In comparison, Crimson Ride had a total of 1,530,432 riders from August 2017 to July 2018, with an additional 377,087 using 348-Ride and another 507,498 riders using the Apartment Shuttle. 

A game day shuttle is also available for relevant Saturdays and connects the stadium and downtown areas. The routes begin three and a half hours before kickoff and end approximately one and a half hours after the game. Regular ride rates apply for these events. Typical game day ridership averaged approximately 4,650 rides in 2019.

Tatyana Alexander, a junior from Mobile, Alabama, is a frequent passenger aboard the Tuscaloosa Trolley.

“I usually take it every morning,” Alexander said. “I live off campus, so I take it to class and then back home from class.”

Alexander used to live on campus, but her move to an apartment complex initiated her use of the system. While the trolley is beneficial to Alexander, she said it isn’t best for all living situations. 

“The trolley system doesn’t help a lot unless you live off campus or if you live in an apartment not made for students, since most of those have their own shuttles or are within walking distance,” Alexander said. 

Elizabeth Stewart, a sophomore from Nashville, Tennessee, has found the Tuscaloosa Trolley and bus system convenient. 

“It’s an easy method of getting on campus with the UA route, but also has convenient stops around the city,” Stewart said.