With The Hop opening up in early November and starting up operations, the numbers have come back and its looking pretty good for the month, at least to start. Right now it’s averaging about 2200 riders per day since it has opened.
Now I wanted to see a little bit more about what the whole buzz is with The Hop so I took a ride.
As I drove up to the stop where I was going to jump on, I did notice that as the streetcar went through the intersection of Van Buren and Jackson, it took up the whole southbound travel lane. This made for a bit of a confusing moment for another motorist as he turned onto Jackson as well.
Not knowing how to handle the situation and rather than stopping behind The Hop and waiting for it to start moving again, the motorist swung wide and ended up waiting in the turn lane to a local market. Once The Hop started moving, he was able to rejoin the travel lane safely behind the streetcar.
But this brings up a good point. Drivers have to remember that the Hop is going to be traveling along the same roads and lanes that cars take. There are certain right-of-way rules that everyone will need to remember when navigating around The Hop line.
The Hop website has a good video for drivers to bone up on what they need to do.
I jump onto the Hop going southbound and I noticed a few things about the interior of the streetcar itself.
First, it was warm! THANK GOODNESS! Winter riders can at least grab a bit time to thaw out, a good thing here in the upper Midwest.
Next, the seating. There is seating on either end of each section of the streetcar (there are 2 “cars” that are connected in the middle). The majority of the space within the car is open for either standing room, or wheelchairs and motorized scooters. There are also hooks on the hand rails where people can hang their bicycles. Yes, you can take your bike onto The Hop too.
At the end-of-the-line stops (Burns Commons to the north, and the Intermodal Station to the south), the friendly Hop drivers take a few moments to either change shifts or move to the other end of the streetcar into the other cockpit. That way the streetcar can just go the other direction on the rails instead of turning around.
Most of the time, The Hop runs every 15 minutes, and every 20 minutes in the off-peak hours. On my ride, I saw at least 2 streetcars in operation and that was around mid-morning. On this day, everything was running right on time which was wonderful since I really didn’t have to wait too long out in the cold for the next one to appear.
It’s a smooth, quiet ride and all the information needed is displayed well with TV monitors showing the next stops as well as the typical route map along the ceiling.
The fares are right in line, they’re free for this first year thanks to Potawatomi Hotel/Casino. But even when they do start charging, the expected rate of $1 per ride still seems a reasonable price especially once they expand the route.
Riding The Hop isn’t very complicated and even though the route is limited at this point, there is definite potential, especially when you consider how it will help with access to the newer areas around Fiserv Forum and the entertainment district.