Concord’s newest tourist attraction, the trolley, is faring well in its pilot year.
Erin Stevens, Concord’s Public Information and Communications Manager, and Beth Williams, Concord’s Economic Vitality and Tourism Manager, see the hop-on, hop-off trolley not only as an efficient way to bring day-trippers, residents, and commuters to historic sites throughout town, but as a way to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Most of the people who visit Concord each year come by car. The trolley allows for those visitors who arrive by train or bus the opportunity to visit sites that underscore Concord’s rich literary, revolutionary, and African American history.
“It’s for people who are older or have small children or just not able to walk or bike from the train station to the different sites,” said Stevens of the need for the trolley. “A lot of love has been put into this and we want to showcase this town.”
This year the trolley will run until mid-November. It’s a seven-mile loop, with seven stops to cultural and historic sites in town; operates seven days a week; and it’s free. The trolley stops at the Concord Visitor Center, the Old Manse, North Bridge Visitor Center, the Old Manse, Concord Museum, Meriam’s Corner and Orchard House. It also stops at the MBTA commuter rail in Concord and twice a day and three times on weekends at the MBTA commuter rail in West Concord.
The town has applied for state and federal grants to extend the trolley service for at least another three years, as an integral feature of the 250th celebration of the American Revolution (Revolution 250) in 2025. If funded, there would be expanded trolley service through Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, and Minuteman National Park.
Based on historic data, Concord is expecting an influx of 100,000-200,000 visitors during Revolution 250. It is estimated that one million people visit Minuteman National Park a year; 600,000 visit Walden State Park; and 15,000 visit Concord Visitors Services.
The trolley offers a green alternative to driving, especially when combined with taking the train and cuts down on parking and traffic problems.
But, for now the tourists are back, especially international visitors. This month alone 25 coach buses are scheduled to be stopping in Concord.
There are two new hopon, hop-off coach bus stops in town and spaces (located outside of the town center) for the buses to park. Folks can hop a trolley to a historical site or stay in town, walk around, and have lunch, according to Williams.
“It’s not that the town did not want tourists; it had to create a system to organize tourists,” Williams said of the lack of parking for the buses.
Until recently, there were no spots for coach buses to park or drop people off and nobody to welcome them.
Now visitors and residents will be able to board the trolley and explore all that Concord has to offer.