New Lift on Trolley Gives Visitors Opportunity to See
Parks and Gardens
|One of the most popular attractions to Sinnissippi
Park is Trolley Car 36 and the excursion it takes visitors on.
Throughout the summer, trolley riders can take an interpretive tour
as it meanders through the Sinnissippi Gardens and along the Rock
River in Rockford, Illinois. The Rockford Park District, which operates
Trolley Car 36 and the tour through the gardens, has been exploring
options and has come up with a solution for making the trolley accessible.
The trolley excursion was first identified with an architectural
barrier in the District's transition plan back in 1992. Many discussions
amongst staff over the years have centered on creative solutions
for making the trolley accessible. At one point, discussion focused
on adding boarding ramps at the trolley station and at stops along
the railway. However, railroad regulations restricted the placement
of such boarding ramps in too close a proximity to the railroad
tracks. So discussion turned to modifying the historic trolley itself.
|Trolley up close.
In 1997, the Rockford Park District added a lift to the trolley
to create access for people who use wheelchairs. The modification
has made Trolley Car 36 one of the most popular excursions for people
with disabilities and their family members and friends. The following
is an interview with Barb Baptista, Senior Manager of Community
and Therapeutic Recreation at the Rockford Park District.
How did you decide to go with a lift instead of the ramp?
When you look at the options offered to trolley riders, it includes
getting out of the trolley at Sinnissippi Park for a brief tour
around the gardens. By having the lift on the trolley, our patrons
who use a wheelchair or those with mobility impairments are not
restricted from the experience. It becomes a safety feature as well,
in case passengers need to disembark from the trolley at places
other than the station in an emergency.
What type of lift was installed?
|Close up of trolley lift.
We purchased the Mobile Tech Fully Automatic Model XM-UVL-600X
(bought out by Braun, Inc.) which is a model commonly installed in
It "houses" the lift under the vehicle when it is not in operation.
The list was purchased through Vehicle Ventures the local vendor.
The owners, Jan and Larry Nalley would be available for more info
at (815) 874-5925, fax (815) 874-5911.
Was it specially modified in any way?
The lift itself was not modified. We did make a small modification
under the trolley, rerouting a tank so that the lift could fit under
How much did it cost?
$7,730 (which includes the lift, shipping, and labor) plus a few
hours of labor by our own mechanics. They made modifications underneath
the trolley to put a ringe on the running board around the trolley.
One point that I would like to highlight was the fact that we preserved
the integrity of the trolley and you don't even notice the lift
when it isn't in use.
Did you have to get any special approval to have the lift installed
on the trolley car?
No. None was needed
What are park visitors saying about the lift?
They appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the entire trolley ride
experience. They also appreciate the security of the lift while
loading and unloading passengers and how user friendly it is in
terms of the time it takes for the complete operation.
|Trolley lift in use.
Any other interesting information that people should know in
the event they are looking at retrofitting a similar type ride in
Incorporate training for staff riding/operating the trolley (especially
if staff are seasonal or new to the job). Include discussion on
how to operate the lift safely, appropriate loading and unloading
of wheelchairs and position of the operator when lift is being used.
Another topic for discussion in training is the etiquette of interacting
with the patron receiving assistance. You know... the soft skills
you can never buy. Consider quality promotion, make sure that all
written materials allude to our "wheelchair accessible trolley"
(or have the international symbol) so that potential park visitors
will know that the excursion is accessible.
Also, we understand that you are marketing one tour a month
with a sign language interpreter. What has been the feedback on
the tour with the interpreter?
The set schedule allows for planning without the hassle of needing
to call and request a sign language interpreter in advance. Currently
we ask for 48 hours advanced notice for requesting a sign language
interpreter on tours that are not already scheduled for an interpreter.
We would like more people who are deaf or hard of hearing to come
out to enjoy the ride and give the Park District reasons to expand
on the number of rides interpreters are automatically scheduled.
For more information, contact:
Rockford Park District
1401 North Second St
Rockford, IL 61107
(815) 987-1600 (voice or tty)
fax (815) 874-5911
National Center on Accessibility
2805 East 10th St, Suite 190
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 856-4422 voice
(812) 856-4421 tty