Trolley Pub Visits Arlington Ahead of Launch

by ARLnow.com March 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm 2,984 35 Comments

A pedal-powered pub turned heads in Courthouse today as it stopped by for a goodwill tour of Arlington.

The owners of Trolley Pub — a company that operates two open-air, pedal-powered party trolleys in Raleigh, N.C. — brought the vehicle up to Arlington in advance of their planned expansion here next month, to get a lay of the land and to introduce it to local law enforcement.

Police Department brass, County Board staffers, Health Department officials and other county employees stopped by on their lunch break to gawk at the 15-seat contraption and ask questions about its operation, legality and safety record.

The Trolley Pub, it turns out, is perfectly legal on the streets of Arlington, at least according to a preliminary police review. Owner Kai Kaapro said the trolley is classified the same as a party bus or limousine under the law; patrons are allowed to bring their own canned beer or boxed wine (no glass and no liquor) and drink it while pedaling around, since there’s a paid driver steering the vehicle.

The trolley itself does utilize pedal power, but it also has its own electric motor, capable of climbing steep hills and reaching up to 20 miles per hour. Normally, Kaapro said, the trolley will cruise around 5-10 miles per hour. Riders (up to 14, plus the driver) will be required to wear seat belts. So far, he said, there have been no reported accidents involving such vehicles in the United States (the concept originated in Europe).

Kaapro said he’s still scouting out possible routes in Arlington. Asked whether he thinks drivers might be annoyed by the slow-moving vehicle on local streets, he said it’s “really not more of an obstruction than a bus,” except it might move a bit slower.

“The novelty tends to moderate people’s tempers,” he noted.

Another concern he’s hoping to allay is that Trolley Pub patrons will be hardcore, out-of-control partiers. In fact, he said, most of his customers are in their 30s and 40s and not interested in getting sloppy drunk while pedaling across town. Twenty-somethings, Kaapro said, haven’t shown as much interest in his Trolley Pubs in Raleigh.

“Most young people don’t really need an excuse to go out and drink and hand out with friends,” he said. “We try hard to make sure it doesn’t get too rowdy. We like the older crowd.”

Plus, Kaapro said, the $35-40 per person price for a two hour tour might be a bit too high for those recently out of college.

Typical Trolley Pub customers are bachelorette parties, tourists, corporate team building exercises, and groups of friends on a pedal-powered bar crawl. Drivers, hired by the company, are typically bartenders or anybody else who can be fun and control a crowd at the same time.

Kaapro, 28, said he started the Trolley Pub two years ago after graduating from law school.

“For some reason this seemed more appealing to me than working for a law firm,” he said.

The Trolley Pub attracted quite a bit of attention during its stint in Courthouse today. One older woman blocked a lane of traffic, in front of about a half-dozen gathered police officers, to a take a cell phone photo of the trolley. Kaapro said he’s received some 20-30 calls for reservations already, just from people who have read about it online.

A new Trolley Pub (different than the older model pictured) is expected to start roaming the streets of Arlington in mid-April.

  • Arlington Chris

    It originates “in Europe”? There are 47 different countries there.

    I think we can handle it if you say: “the Netherlands”, or even, “Amsterdam”.

    • Ahhlington

      “Wait, Europe isn’t one big state like Texas?” -Majority of Americans

    • drax

      You can also handle it if he says Europe.

    • RunningWriting

      There are only 6 countries in the world: the U.S., South America (Mexico counts as South America), Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

  • DC

    Saw these over in Munich several years ago…never thought I’d see it here.

    • chciken chef

      munich is a fine country

      • Guest

        I hear these things originated in the continent of Munich

  • BAC.08

    Is Zimmerman gonna take credit for this trolley, too?

  • flux

    I don’t think DC area drivers do “novelty”.

    • AL

      Me neither

  • Mike

    They like the 30’s and 40’s, non rowdy crowd? Uh, dude? Not sure if you’ve ever been to Clarendon on a weekend, but it’s mostly kids straight out of college who can’t hold their liquor. Good luck with that.

    • drax

      Um, so now some in their 30s and 40s will come to Clarendon to rid the Trolley Pub.


  • Southeast Ben

    “Can’t Wait” – Insert Bart Scott reference

  • ph7

    corporate team building exercises

    Perfect way to destroy something fun.

  • LatinPike

    I hope this replace the Columbia Pike Trolley.

  • Buckley51

    This just doesn’t sound appealing. At all.

    • beer drinking cyclist

      Then don’t do it.

  • Suburban Not Urban

    “Owner Kai Kaapro said the trolley is classified the same as a party bus
    or limousine under the law; patrons are allowed to bring their own
    canned beer or boxed wine”
    The idea that an open air vehicle is covered under the same rules as a closed-in bus or limousine is ridiculous. So I could get a Disney tram with 50+ seats and a liquor license and run up and down Washington blvd serving liquor?

    • Buster

      Yeah, and it’s also ridiculous that open air convertibles are covered under the same rules as closed-in minivans!

    • “So I could get a Disney tram with 50+ seats and a liquor license and run up and down Washington blvd serving liquor?” No.

  • novasteve

    Are all the cops there to demonstrate how you will get arrested for being intoxicated in public?

  • Stu

    So if I get some of my bros in the back of my pickup and drive up Wilson at 5 mph while they get drunk the cops won’t have a problem with that?

    • Get your for-hire permit from the state and lobby to change the ordinace forbidding riders in the back of pickups and you got yourself a business!

  • Hokie

    I’ve seen this in Minneapolis also- and people seemed to enjoy using it. The difference though is that Minneapolis is flat, the roads are 3-4 lanes across and mostly 1-way, and the traffic is at least half as much there, if not more. OH- and there’s a solid downtown area worth going around to see. Arlington- much as I love it- has none of those traits that make it worth it for this.

  • BYOB

    I like the idea, but would be embarrassed to be seen by a public that knew I had just spent $35 to BYOB.

    • snarl

      and also to PYOA around town…….

      • BYOB


  • Becoming Indifferent

    This may be the dumbest idea for Arlington ever.

  • rawny rocketz

    lol. i give it a year. maybe.

  • bancensorship

    How much do you all want to bet that the Arlington police will find a way to stop this trolley or tax the snot out of it?

  • Ballston Resident

    This is an awful idea.

  • DR

    Kai – If you see this, big support from a fellow DSL student (’15) who lives in N. Arlington. Can’t wait to check this out.

    • Thanks DR!! Let me know if you want a free ride sometime.

      • DR

        I will take you up on that!


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