A former driver for the Tourism Moose Jaw organization recently revealed things go farther than that — that the trolley itself was actually unsafe at times when it was in operation.
Tires with makeshift repairs, home insulation wedged in places it shouldn’t be, gauges that didn’t function, lights that stopped working. It was all concerning enough that the driver expressed concern to the Tourism Board, with regards to not only passenger safety but the potential liability all parties would be in if a major incident should occur.
The good news is repairs for many of those issues have been going on consistently since the most recent season ended. The bad news is more problems are cropping up all the time, and that could put the Trolley tours in jeopardy for the coming year, on top of the loss of service due to the COVID-19 pandemic
“We’re getting to the point that we have to decide what we were going to do with it, it is becoming more and more work every year,” said Jacki L’Heureux-Mason, executive director of Tourism Moose Jaw. “We started with an exterior renovation, and as we’ve needed to put repairs into it, we’ve put repairs into it, and we decided it was getting a little to excessive and ended up doing an entire rebuild of it.”
That rebuild included a litany of mechanical issues and saw an entire year of work put into the vehicle while waiting for the new season.
“Then there were a couple more things we wanted to look at, found a couple of problems that come up with vehicles when you’re pulling it apart, got those all worked out, and there are a few more things to do before we’re back on the road,” L’Heureux-Mason said. “But it has been worked on by professional mechanics and always has been safetied before it goes on the road; we can’t go anywhere without that sticker.”
The vehicle — which according to registration forms is a Ford 1991 Bus with a 35-seat capacity under all the old-timey design and badging – has been in service since the early 2000s and has been a key part of the Tourism Moose Jaw’s summer activities, featuring a wide-range of tours of the city. It’s also a major financial boon for the organization, with income from the tours helping run the program itself.
That’s where the current situation comes into play.
Due to COVID-19, the Trolley Tours are completely shut down, and have been since the start of the season. While that means more time for repairs and improvements, it also means it isn’t running. And with no timeline for it’s return — tours of that sort aren’t eligible to hit the road until Phase 4.2 of the Re-Open Saskatchewan plan, for which a date hasn’t been considered — there’s a possibility it won’t be driving at all this summer.
“We’ll have it ready, there’s some work that has to be done, and it’s a budget issue right now since we don’t have any income on it, which makes it difficult this year,” L’Heureux-Mason said. “It’s an important part of our tourism operations. A lot of people pop in and have a look at what’s going on in the city of Moose Jaw and it’s something our tourists really enjoy, so we’re really hoping to get back on the road.”