One by one, tiny hands drop a loony into the fare box.
Westshore Town Centre is the first stop for Langford’s trolley, and driver David Morrell is smiling as pre-school students wave their golden coins in the air, gingerly climbing the trolley steps, dropping their coins and listening to the clink as their donations rattle into the fare box.
“What more can you ask for? It’s a pleasure to come to work every day,” the longtime public transit driver said. “This is perfect. This is a typical day to start off with 20 little ones and they all love the trolley. Driving a trolley is like being in a parade.”
Morrell has experienced life behind the wheel for decades, driving a school bus, transit bus, a cab and a limousine, but the Langford resident says his hometown’s trolley is special.
“Every place that I worked at, it was basically a fee-for-service model … and that is okay, but here they have taken out the fee and you can pay whatever you can afford,” he said. “That just leaves the service (to the community).
The 38-seat trolley, featuring wooden benches inside and painted on the outside in the unique green and red of traditional trolleys, is funded primarily through sponsorships and advertising, with a portion collected through the donation fares. The 30-minute round trip to takes riders through the Langford core, Westshore Town Centre, Goldstream Village and City Centre Park.
Early childhood educator Iris Twidale, who accompanied the preschoolers onto the trolley, said it is not just about going from point A to point B.
“We do field trips throughout the summer and we decided we were going to do a trolley bus ride. The kids look forward to it every year,” she said. “Some kids were there bright and early at daycare at 7 a.m. They didn’t even have breakfast, (they were) so excited to get to the trolley bus ride.”
She said not only do her preschool students enjoy it, her own children appreciate the inexpensive community service and personality that drivers including Morrell provide.
Morrell is one of two trolley drivers employed by the city. A Belmont secondary alumnus who went to high school with Langford Mayor Stew Young, he said the trolley is a great metaphor for the humble beginnings of the city.
Providing a service that helps anyone and everyone, regardless of their situation, financial or otherwise, is a job he is proud to be involved with.
“I actually chased after this job for three years before I got it. What makes it great is the people. You have a much, much more intimate relationship with the riders than I ever did in transit,” he said. “The city of Langford has directed me to provide service … It is all about service.”
For more information on the free trolley service visit cityoflangford.ca.