Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Local News

Shore Line Trolley Museum Reopens with Abbreviated Hours, New Rules


Photo courtesy of the Shore Line Trolley Museum

(Photo courtesy of the Shore Line Trolley Museum )

After months of being closed due to the pandemic, the Shore Line Trolley Museum recently got back on track, reopening on Aug. 1. Though the trolleys are running and open to the public, it is on a limited basis.

New hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout August and September with a maximum of 20 tickets sold per one-hour time slot. Tickets can only be purchased online and must be purchased in advance.

“Our admission is being handled much differently than normal,” said John Proto, executive director of The Branford Electric Railway Association and The Shore Line Trolley Museum. “This is less than half the capacity of a trolley car. Although we could certainly accept more visitors per hour, this is what we are comfortable with to ensure the trolley is cleaned between each round-trip.”

Visitors will be greeted by volunteer staff outside of the Sprague Visitors Center for instructions and online admission redemption. The Visitors Center will be opened for restrooms use only. Visitors and staff must wear face coverings and social distancing will be enforced.

Visitors are asked to complete a COVID 19 exposure assessment and CDC self-assessment prior to arrival. If any members of a party are feeling ill, the visit should be rescheduled via phone or email.

Visitors should arrive 15 minutes prior to the scheduled visit time. The scheduled visit is a 45-minute time slot, which allows for the 1 ½ mile trolley ride on an antique trolley car and self-guided tours through the barns.

“During the summer, the ride opens up to the Farm River Estuary where visitors catch a glimpse at osprey, egrets, and even kayakers,” said Proto. “The cars are meticulously restored and visitors can take a self-guided tour through our trolley barns to discover the mode of transportation that created our suburbs.

“It’s a 45-minute glimpse into a much simpler time in history,” added Proto. “Because we operate on what was an actual commuter trolley line until 1947, many of our visitors can directly relate to stories told by their parents and grandparents. Visitors compare their ride to today’s much more stressful commute on I-95. The museum has a timeless appeal to kids and adults, history buffs, rail buffs, and educators.”

The museum store remains closed for in-person sales, though online sales with in-person pickup or shipping are available.

Having been closed since March, the museum has not only missed out on more than 8,000 visitors, according to Proto, but several special programs as well, including the Blue Grass Festival, which was scheduled to debut this past spring. Annual programs that had to be canceled included the Easter Bunny event, Members Weekends, Tuesday Summer Storytime, and the Museum in Motion Program.

With the missed visits and programs, the museum—like many businesses and organizations—anticipates a financial loss in 2020. It’s also currently keeping admission prices as they were in 2019, though they had been set for a nominal increase this year, and the processing fees for tickets are being absorbed by the museum.

A recent press release stated an appeal for donations. Proto also noted that he has seen positive public support throughout the pandemic, particularly through the Great Give 2020. He also saw the community participate in the first-ever Get Creative Campaign, encouraging the public to create upcycled trolley projects.

“The communities’ eyes are certainly focused on us coming back and right now I’m working with educators to see how we can fill the void with the lack of after school/in school activities in the fall,” said Proto. “The Get Creative Campaign went well and I was very impressed with how many people have such wonderful memories of the trolley museum and how creative kids of all ages found ingenious ways to recycle.”

Now that the museum has taken a step toward reopening, Proto and the board are examining how to continue other much-anticipated fall events, such as the Pumpkin Patch and the Haunted Isle.

“We’ve had more than initial conversations about fall events,” said Proto. “I’m hoping that Pumpkin Patch will run in October with an additional weekday added for visitor convenience. Haunted Isle discussions are leading us to run at a vastly reduced capacity. Santa will be done differently this year, but we want to make sure to keep this tradition going.”

With the museum in its first week of reopening, Proto stressed that all of the staff has been trained on safety and cleaning techniques.

“The wellbeing of our volunteers and visitors is paramount,” said Proto. “If things work out well, we will possibly add another day to our schedule this fall.”

For information, tickets, or to make a donation, visit www.shorelinetrolley.org.

Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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