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Trolleys: Just a MATA of Time- and Money

By Sally Giddens |

This time next year, trolleys should be running up and down McKinney Avenue carrying hungry workers to lunch, shoppers to the Crescent, and sightseers to the Arts District. Riders will drop their quarter in the fere box and take a ride on one of the rolling antiques of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA).



“Uh-huh,” say the skeptics, “we’ve been reading about this McKinney Avenue trolley project since 1981. We’ll believe it when we see the dirt fly.”

Believe it. The dirt (well, actually the roof) has flown on this long-time-coming dream of restaurateur Phil Cobb, the transit authority’s chairman of the board. In May, the roof was removed from MATA’s trolley car barn, located at the comer of Bowen and Oak Grove where you see the crane east of McKinney Avenue. The new roof will be about seven feet higher to accommodate the trolley cars.

This summer will be a busy one for MATA, says its new president, Neal Sleeper. In addition to the reconstruction of the car barn, track work will begin on McKinney along with installation of electric lines that will power the trolley cars. Two spring fundraisers-the Buddy Holly Trolley Folly at the Hard Rock Cafe and the Trolley Mile-were planned to bring MATA to within $400,000 of its start-up fundraising goal.

Sleeper says corporate sponsorship of MATA’s trolley accounts for the biggest chunk of funds raised. Three of MATA’s four trolley cars have already been “bought” and each will bear the name of the corporate sponsors: Cityplace Development Corporation, the Crescent, and Lincoln Property Company. “Finding a sponsor for that last trolley car will just about put us over the top, ” Sleeper says, adding that we may hear the clang, clang, clang of McKinney Avenue trolleys by the New Year, and at least_bv the end of March 1988.