The Kenosha Trolley System

The City of Kenosha has an electric trolley system.

This is something that not many, even from Wisconsin, might know about. You might see a few references to an electric streetcar and Kenosha. I mostly confused it with an Amtrak or Metra commuter line that might pass through the area. If you do travel through downtown Kenosha, you’ll see the tracks and possibly see the Kenosha trolley itself.

A photo of a Kenosha Trolley car in Harborpark

The Kenosha Trolley in Harborpark heads east

The Kenosha Trolley system offers an amazingly inexpensive ride.

As I write this, adult tickets are just $1.00. Children 12 and under are just $.50. Better yet, an all day pass is just $2.50. On Saturdays, that all day pass includes the city bus routes. A good deal but don’t plan to take the trolley too far. I’ll explain in a moment. The Kenosha Trolley is an inexpensive but short ride in one of Lake Michigan’s most beautiful developed lakefront communities.

The Kenosha Transit Electric Streetcar began operations in 2000.

The trolley cars were made in Canada in the 1950’s for the Toronto Transit¬†Commission. Originally, the streetcar system had 5 cars that came from various locations after restoration and repairs. There are now a total of 8 of the PCC (Presidents’ Conference¬†Committee) cars with some of them coming from the East Troy Railroad Museum. The streetcars themselves are beautifully painted, streamlined Art Deco era trolleys with the paint colors representing the different cities that at one time operated the same PCC type trolleys.

The Kenosha Trolley route:

The Kenosha Transit Electric Streetcar covers a 1.7 mile oval. It runs west on 54th St. to turn left at 11th Ave. right near the METRA station and looping around the Kenosha County Building. It then heads east on 56th St. going past the Kenosha County Courthouse as well as the Kenosha Visitor’s and Convention Bureau Information Center (the downtown Kenosha one) and several businesses. Just after the Kenosha museum in Harborpark it heads back north to 54th St. Basically, the Kenosha Streetcar route is 2 blocks wide and about 12 blocks long. If you miss a ride, instead of waiting the whole 15 minutes you can just walk the two blocks and catch it going in the opposite direction.

Current Trolley System hours:

Summer Hours: (April 1st – January 2nd)

  • Monday through Friday: 11:05 a.m. until 6:35 p.m.
  • Saturdays and Sundays: 10:05 a.m. until 5:35 p.m.
Winter Hours: (January 3th – February 28th)
  • Monday through Friday: Closed
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10:05 a.m. – 5:35 p.m.
Winter Hours: (March 1st – March 31st)
  • Monday through Friday: 10:05 a.m. – 2:05 p.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday: 10:05 a.m. – 5:35 p.m.
They also have special hours on holidays and special occasions. (You’ll want to check with the Kenosha Transit System to double check times if you’re making a special trip – since this is not the official site and I won’t know if they change).

The Kenosha Streetcar is a tourist attraction.

A lot of sites I came across trying to find more information about the Kenosha trolley (like where to get a ticket for the Kenosha trolley) promote it as a commuter system. It does connect the Harborpark Condominiums with the METRA and the rest of the transit system and it does have some businesses on the line. However, it does not really go anywhere itself or connect the average user to anything. The distance it covers is nearly walkable in the time you could wait for a trolley. The route times start in late mornings and end early evenings so commuters cannot use it. There are no weekday routes at all for part of the winter.

As a means of transportation into Kenosha it still has problems. Unless you arrive by bus or train in the first place, there is no good place to park your car and catch the trolley to Harborpark. I did not even find convenient parking at the Kenosha Transit Center (which was not even open to the public when I was there – while the trolley was operating). While tokens for the trolley can be bought at the Kenosha Visitor’s Center, reader Dee has pointed out that you can also just pay for the fair on the trolley like a transit bus.

A photo of a Kenosha streetcar decorated for Christmas

A Kenosha Trolley System car decorated for Christmas heads south near the METRA station

If you are visiting Kenosha from Illinois on the METRA, the trolley is a great way to arrive.

The trolley stops right by the METRA station. It would then take you right to the Harborwalk and Lakefront. You could also take the bus and visit the rest of Kenosha from there.

I’d like to spend a day in Kenosha, Wisconsin starting with the Kenosha Trolley.

It looks like the best place to park would be by the Kenosha museum by Harborpark. I’d take advantage of the all day pass on Saturday and use the bus to tour downtown Kenosha. The Harborpark area is a very beautiful area along Lake Michigan. There is a lighthouse nearby. The city of Kenosha some very interesting shops and the area is really nice. I think it is a great attraction for Kenosha as well as the rest of Wisconsin.

A ride on the Kenosha Trolley might also be fun to do when visiting the Jelly Belly Factory in Kenosha or shopping at the Prime Outlet Mall in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Address for the Kenosha Transit Center

(The Trolley passes right by and has a stop.)

724 54th St.
Kenosha, WI 53144

Phone for the Kenosha Transit Center:

262-653-4287

Website for the Kenosha Transit System

Kenosha.org

Google Map to Kenosha Transit Center (near Harborpark)


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About James Thoenes

James is a Wisconsin photographer promoting Wisconsin attractions and business. Follow James further here Google+

Comments

  1. Kenosha built America’s first 21st Century streetcar system. At 11 am on dedication day, June 17, 2000, Richard Lindgren, an original Kenosha Electric Railway employee from 1932, was given the honor of operating the first car (No. 4610) on the brand-new line. Since then Kenosha has been the model for cities studying and building streetcar construction nationwide. Kenoshans are very proud of their streetcar system and hope to expand it further. (Click the link for the Friends of Kenosha Streetcars website.)

  2. You don’t need to purchase a pass or a token in advance to board the streetcar. Just pay the appropriate fare as you board; just like a city bus. Pick up the streetcar at any number of posted stops along the route; plenty of free street parking along those two miles. I agree with the prior post… Kenosha’s electric streetcars are certainly a unique and fun attraction for our city!

  3. Eric S. says:

    We hope to expand the streetcar line in the near future. There have been many discussions lately. By the way, the proper term is streetcar instead of trolley. A trolley is normally a vehicle with rubber tires instead of a track.

    • James Thoenes says:

      Thanks Eric. I used the term trolley as that is probably what most people would think to call it. It’s interesting though: A trolley on a street instead of track and a streetcar on track instead of a street?

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