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Mendocino Transit Authority

MTA’s Holiday Trolley is an Enduring Family Favorite

For 21 years, Mendocino Transit Authority’s Holiday Trolley has puttered around an hour-long circuit route through Ukiah, packed to the gills with children and parents, everyone singing along to Christmas carols broadcast on the trolley’s sound system. Before the hour is up, many riders will have sung their hearts out, rung the brass bell, and called goodbye to the Santa-capped driver who gave them a candy cane as they stepped down to the pavement.


The 2018 Holiday Trolley will begin its annual embodiment of old-time Ukiah holiday spirit on the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 23, following a loop route between El Azteca restaurant on South School Street to Walmart, downtown Alex Thomas Plaza, and Raley’s on the north end of town.  Sponsored by Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Program, MTA and many businesses, it will run through Sunday, Dec. 23.


“My wife and I have a warm feeling for the MTA trolley because we both loved Mr. Rogers growing up, and the trolley was always there to take you on a fun adventure,” said James Snidow, a Willits radio deejay who has brought four generations of family to ride the trolley for several years. “It doesn’t really matter what is going by: The good energy is in the trolley. There can be pressure around holiday time, so to do something that’s pure fun like riding the trolley and singing Christmas songs with the children, it’s a celebration. It helps.”


Riding MTA’s Holiday Trolley has been a family tradition for 21 years.

The “antique” green and red Trolley (it was purchased new in 1997) has big side windows, polished wood paneling, twinkling lights and garlands of festive greenery.  It can be standing room only on board.  Dawn White, MTA operations supervisor and former trolley driver, said the hardest part of driving the Holiday Trolley is sometimes having to turn people away when it has reached maximum capacity.  Though patrons can catch a ride or disembark at many stops on the route, White said the best place to ensure a ride is at Alex Thomas Plaza.


“MTA is so happy to be able to celebrate the holidays with our community through the trolley, and many of our drivers look forward to it,” said Carla Meyer, general manager of MTA. “We applaud the generous local businesses who support the free rides that bring people such joy and holiday spirit.”


The trolley holiday schedule is: weekday afternoons hourly beginning at Alex Thomas Plaza at 3:15 through 5:15 p.m.; weekends hourly from 12:15 until 6:15 p.m. with an hour break between 3:15 and 4:15 p.m.  See the map and schedule below.


Lisa Alexander, executive director of the Chamber, said its membership is happy to bring back the trolley once again this year. “We appreciate the generosity of our local businesses most when we see so many people from near and far having a good time on the trolley,” she said.


Business sponsors include:  Savings Bank of Mendocino County, El Azteca, Holes in the Wall, Slam Dunk Pizza, Raley’s Shopping Center, Walmart, Pear Tree Shopping Center, Ukiah Family Dentistry, Ukiah Periodontics, Pick Em Up Truck Store, Siderakis Family, The Works, Chadwick Armory, Ramos the Realtor, Cultivo, Mode Boutique, Ukiah Valley Golf Course, Craftsman Estate Jewelry and Pawn, Little Brown Bear and Family Life Magazine.

Mendocino Transit Authority provides safe, low-cost, and convenient public bus service throughout Mendocino County.  To learn more, visit mendocinotransit.org or call (707) 462-1422 or (800) 696-4682.