The Saratoga Summer
“This is a very nice area,” Valentin Schwaegerl said as he took in the sights along Broadway from a seat on the Saratoga Springs Summer Trolley.
The Florida resident is an event chef, in town for six weeks to make breakfast for early morning visitors to Saratoga Race Course. Out exploring on a recent Tuesday, he walked to the Victoria Pool in Saratoga Spa State Park and then hopped on the trolley to head back downtown. It was his first time using the city’s seasonal public transportation, and he was pleased not to have to walk all the way back to Broadway on a steamy afternoon.
The summer trolley is something not too many tourists take advantage of, said Velana Judkins, who was driving the eye-catching blue vehicle that Tuesday. It can hold up to 30 passengers, but only four were riding on it at around 3 p.m. that afternoon.
Tuesdays are typically quiet, since it’s a dark day at the track, but overall ridership is still quite low. “Most of the people who ride are locals,” Judkins said as she drove slowly through Saratoga Spa State Park.
The service is run by the Capital District Transportation Authority. According to CDTA’s recently released route-performance report, the trolley sees, on average, less than four riders per revenue hour.
CDTA spokesman Jonathan Scherzer said the company is working with the city, businesses and tourism agencies to boost interest in the service.
There are two trolleys that loop the city daily from noon to 8:30 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day. One shows up at each of six designated stops about every 20 minutes.
With their arched windows and quaint wooden bench seats, the vehicles look like they belong in an earlier era, but they’re actually only 2 years old. And unlike the trolley cars of yesteryear, they are air conditioned.
The trolley route starts and ends at the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Spa State Park.
Stops put riders within easy reach of local attractions, including Saratoga Race Course, the Gideon Putnam Resort and Spa, the National Museum of Dance, the Roosevelt Baths, Congress Park, Saratoga Casino and Raceway, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Saratoga Automobile Museum and Broadway’s shops and restaurants.
Riding the trolley is also a good way to simply take in the sights without having to worry about driving. The entire loop takes about a half hour. One ride costs $1.50 and an all-day pass is $4.
Many people start and end the loop at Congress Park, Judkins noted.
Along the way, riders see Saratoga Spa State Park, bustling businesses on Broadway, historic homes and gorgeous flower gardens.
“The trotters warm up there,” Judkins said, pointing to a dirt track not far from Saratoga Casino and Raceway.
Trolley drivers don’t typically provide commentary along the route, but Judkins said she’s happy to answer questions about the city when asked, if she knows the answer.