Truro’s proposed road train is a step closer to hitting the road, but it won’t be until 2019.
The Town of Truro is moving forward with the proposed road train that will bring tourists and passengers to Victoria Park and through the downtown area during the summer tourism season, but has pushed the proposed 2018 startup date to next year at a council meeting on Monday.
“The main thing is we want to make sure we got everything properly prepared and ready to go,” said Mike Dolter, COA of The Town of Truro.
“In order to have the train in place this year, we would have had to order it right now. Although we feel it’s a great concept that would work well here, we just want to make sure we have all our homework done.”
While they had originally planned to have the train up and running by the Victoria Day weekend this year, the push to 2019 will give the town time to secure sponsorships from the business community, and sort out logistics on the train’s operation.
So far, the train proposal has secured $24,600 in business sponsorship support for the first year of the train’s operation, and $21,600 for the second and third years, but is still $17,900 short from reaching its $42,500 annual sponsorship target for the first year.
“The trains that are operating in Tatamagouche and Halifax right now actually have a voluntary ridership donation system, giving riders the opportunity to pay for their ride, and the numbers we have seen from those would probably cover a lot of that deficit,” said Dolter.
“Tatamagouche has been running theirs in the black quite successfully, so we’re confident within three years we can have everything paid for. The ridership should cover a lot of the shortfall we identified on the meeting on Monday.”
When asked if Truro has the amount of tourism needed to make the train feasible, Dolter said, “We’ve got fairly high confidence we will have people on the train.”
“With the Civic Square and the historic character of the town, there are a lot of people in town; we see them all the time. We’ve got a fairly robust tourism committee and we’ve got a lot of other work going on in the tourism end to attract people into the area.”
While the train carries a projected revenue of $85,000, it also carries a financial risk for the town.
“There is always risk that ridership numbers may not be where we expected because of any number of reasons,” said Dolter.
“We think the risk is minimal, but there could be anything from road construction to everything else that would make it difficult for the train to operate and make the revenue we are expecting.”
The total cost for the purchase of the train capital costs and startup costs is $128,900.
The town will be meeting with those responsible for Tatamagouche’s train to look into other possible risks the town could face, and will be looking into other things such as winter storage and possible on-train advertising before the trains planned startup during 2019’s tourist season.
“We’re still very optimistic the train will be a great project and a great addition to the town,” said Dolter.
“We are looking forward to having people come in to use the train once it’s in place.”