Antique trolleys service the downtown area, including the Pyramid, Beale Street, the National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Cook Convention Center, Memphis Queen riverboats, the Tennessee Visitor's Welcome Center, Auto Zone park and more. The trolleys are a nice way to see the city if you don't want to walk. You can take the Riverfront Loop trolley that runs alongside of the Mississippi River, with nice views of the Hernando Desoto bridge, the Pyramid, Mud Island, and other attractions.
The cost is $0.60 during regular operating hours and only $0.30 during lunchtime
(11:00 am - 1:30pm)
Monday - Thursday 6:00- 11:30pm
Friday - 6:00am - 1:00am
Saturday - 9:00am - 1:00am
Sunday - 10:00am - 6:00pm
Check the website below for more details.
The Memphis Area Transit Authority operates three downtown lines of vintage street cars or trolleys. They are a great way to get around to many of the sights in and around the downtown area and also just to take to get nice views of the Mississippi River. The trolley fleet is mostly made up of restored Portuguese and Australian street cars some dating back to 1909. They look brand spanking new and are very attractive. Fares are $1.00 per ride or you can get a 2-trip pass for $1.50, a one-day pass for $3.50, or a 3-day pass for $8.00. There are also other pricing options and discounts for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Service is pretty extensive as well. All three lines operate 7 days a week with the more popular Riverfront and Main Street lines running every 10 minutes. Go to the website to get the details on schedule. This website also has a nice write-up on the history of this restored line: http://world.nycsubway.org/us/memphis/
I love trollies!
If you plan on seeing several sights in Downtown Memphis or you are centralizing yourself there, you cannot go wrong with using the MATA Trolley or Bus Service. I drove to the North End Terminal, a hub which serves both trollies and buses. The parking there was free. I bought two all-day trolley passes there. You can buy 1-2-or-3 day passes from the trolley operators, but if you want to buy the monthly passes you would have to go to the North End Terminal (between Auction and Overton on Main St, just north of I-40).
Once you board the trolley, you place your brand new pass in the change machine and it time stamps it. You only have to do that once and any time after that, you just show the pass to the operator.
We really were not pressed for time so we did not pay attention to the accuracy of their time schedules. I felt that they were pretty consistent and we did not have to spend more that 10-12 minutes for a trolley at any given time.
Some trolley stops did have seating, but other stops were no more than a glorified awning to shield you from the elements (i.e. civic center stop - it's pretty don't get me wrong...but come on...where are the seats?).
Our experience with the trolley operators and their assistants were great. They were helpful with questions and always called out the next stop. Some even have brochures of museums, popular sights and trolley stops (always helpful if you can't print it off from their website)
I think there are stop pulls on the trollies, but you know...I always call out "yep, that's me" or yelled "thank you".
Trolley Base Fare $1.00
Senior and Disabled Fare $0.50
Lunchtime Fare All Riders
(11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) $0.50
Transfer to Fixed Route Bus $1.50
2-Ride Trolley Pass $1.50
Daily Pass $3.50
3-Day Pass $8.00
Operators do not make change...so be prepared!!
A more concise list of trolley fares are on the MATA Website.
The Main Street Trolley is a unique, inexspensive, and fun way to get around downtown Memphis. The cars themselves are refurbished 1920's street cars, including some reproductions. The line runs in an enormous circle including Main Street, the Pyramid, and Riverside Drive. There are 20 stops along the way where passengers can get on or off. Fare is $0.60 each way or $2.50 for an all-day pass. Exact change is required. Wheelchair accessable. Line stops running at 6 PM on Sundays.
There are two trolley lines in Memphis. One is a circle which goes along Riverfront and around to Main. In the middle of Main, you can transfer to the Madison Street Trolley.
We got off at Madison. There was no trolley stop station for transferring to the Madison car, but eventually, one came and we transferred. The main feature of the Madison car was going by the Wonderbread bakery, which you can tell by smell alone. At the end of the line, we paid again (another $1.00) and got another transfer. We picked up a lady in a wheelchair when we went over Presley Blvd on the way back
The trollies hadn't been around for a while, but since downtown Memphis has been getting a bit of a face lift over the past few years they decided to bring them back. I have yet to ride on one, but they don't really go very far & I don't find them extremely convenient. However, I understand they are super cheap. I believe you only have to pay 25 cents for a ride, so it might be fun just to try it. As far as I know they are still expanding the area to which the trollies will travel.
Antique trolleys serve downtown from North Main Street's Pinch District to South Main Street's Orpheum Theatre to within one block of the National Civil Rights Museum. Call for hours. All day passes can be purchased from operators for $2.00. Exact fare required.
Main Street Trolley
547 North Main Street
Memphis, TN 38105
ph: 901 274-6282
fax: 901 577-2600
The current system of restored trolley cars, many of which came from Portugal, was completed in 1993. This 2.5 mile, mostly dual track system follows the path of its mule-drawn 19th century trolley that was dismantled in the 1940's in favor of diesel buses. The route runs mostly along Main Street from Auction Avenue to G.E. Patterson Avenue. The Riverfront Loop trolley’s features unique views of the Mississippi River, a competing contrast to New Orleans street car system, which hides behind a levee. The Madison Avenue trolley line gives riders access to Midtown and medical facilities. The old trolleys have been faithfully restored to their original elegance, including solid brass seat and window ornamentation, rare “glue-chip” glass transom windows, hand-carved mahogany corbels, and antique lighting fixtures.
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) also has a complex system of diesel buses. The website provides a phone number for customer service, which I used. Unfortunately, I found the MATA representative I talked rather short on knowledge and unable to provide street addresses for bus stops. In the conversation I had, I was expected to know more about Memphis than I did. There was at least a live person available on the phone though.
So, I didn't get a chance to ride the trolley this time around, and only got these fleeting images as it passed by.
It's a trolley. Early form of a Subway or Metro. Runs on the street stopping at set locations to pickup and drop-off passengers. It does has limited reach. It runs from South Memphis (Central Station) north for about 2 miles on Main Street. Some of the trolleys, loop around at the north end, and come south along the river, providing access to riverfront locations. Main Street has two-directions for the trolley's, north to south and south to north. It's one-way on the riverfront, north to south, so you'll have to do complete circles to get to and from a Main Street location using the Riverfront trolley.
Districts served include Pinch District, Memphis Cook Convention Center, Beale Street, Orpheum Theater and National Civil Rights Museum. There is a branch going out to the medical district (2010)
Main Street Trolley - GE Paterson (South Main Historic District) - 6 blocks -> Downtown (Beale St - Madison) 5 blocks -> Government Center (Court - Winchester) - 9 blocks -> Pinch Historic District - 4 blocks.
Riverfront Trolley - Willis (Pinch Hist Dist) 7 blocks to Mud Island Monorail - 3 blocks to Riverboats - 12 blocks to Central Station. Then the trolley follows Main Street back to the north end.
Medical District - Madison at Main east on Madison through district called the Edge to the Medical Center.
These are really old, but you can tell they're maintained very regularly. They look completely new on the inside, freshly polished and all. More or less everywhere they go is within walking distance, but when you're sick of walking and are willing to cough up $1, you'll be taken wherever you want and still get a good view.
NOTE: Coming into Memphis, several Memphians told me the trolleys are $0.75. That was absolutely not my experience. They're a full dollar. So don't worry too much about having quarters.
These run quite often, go near most attractions in Memphis
not airconditioned and opened windows bring in bugs.
If you are disabled or elderly you will have to call MATA and let them know 2 weeks before you come to visit so that they can issue you a proper id. Once you get this you will not have to pay full fare. Having an id from your own state or AARP is not enough to get on with a discount. We tried that and were not having it.
We drove in toward the Visitor's Center (where you can park for free) because one of the things I wanted to do was ride the trolleys, and the lady at the visitor's center had told me that we could catch the loop trolley from there and ride all the way around.
There are three trolley lines in downtown Memphis and they are all old versions of the New Orleans streetcars with quite rough rail beds and wooden seats. We rode all three loops. We got on the Riverside Loop car, and paid 50 cents each (as old people - half regular rate). We asked about a transfer and he said we couldn't get one unless we transferred to the Madison Street line. The Loop car goes up Riverside and then comes down Main (which is not open to vehicular traffic).
When we got opposite the pyramid on the Riverside Loop car, there was a red light ahead of us. We could hear a train. The trolley driver was annoyed because there weren't supposed to be Amtrak trains running then. She called dispatch and they didn't know anything about it either. But we could hear a LOT of whistling. Maybe a freight train.
Eventually one single engine appeared, whistling its head off, and the gates went down on each intersection until it came behind a building that was to our left and then there was silence. The light was still red for us. Eventually one of the lights (there were two) turned green, so the trolley proceeded across the train tracks.
Currently the antique trolleys are being renovated (as of 2014). They have alternate trolleys now on the routes.
The farebox on each trolley is designed to accept cash fares and passes. The farebox does not dispense change and bus operators are not allowed to handle money or make change for fares. Please have exact fare amount ready to deposit into the farebox. The farebox also does not accept pennies or foreign objects.
All trolley base fares are designed for one-way trips:
Trolley Base Fare ............................................................................................. $1.00
Trolley Passes: Day Pass ...................................................................................... $3.50