Marietta, Atlanta trolley company shutting down after decade

All aboard no more.

The trolley company that has run tours in Marietta and downtown Atlanta for about a decade is closing at the end of the year and selling their three trolleys.

The Historic Marietta Trolley Company also ran ghost tours and pedicabs in Marietta. In Atlanta, the business went by the name Peachtree Trolley Co.

Maybe their most well-known service was the Marietta ghost tours, which they did by foot and trolley. Cassandra Buckalew, who owns the business with her husband Brian, said someone is purchasing the ghost tour business and their script, but she declined to name the buyer.

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Buckalew said things like vehicle upkeep, finding drivers and increasing insurance costs have made it too rough to keep the vintage trolleys running.

She said their insurance went up seven percent, without any claims, from last year.

“We experienced one headache after another,” she said. “The transportation business is really difficult. There is a lot of liability of moving people around.”

Buckalew said their business employed between 15 and 20 employees. The last day is Dec. 31.

Buckalew said she doesn’t know of anyone else doing narrated historic trolley tours like theirs in the metro Atlanta area.

Joni Goodin leads guests on the Ghosts of Marietta Tour. (Courtesy of Ghosts of Marietta)

A 2010 story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that the metro area, which works hard to bill itself as a destination, does not have many tour companies with trolleys, double-decker buses or boats the likes of Washington D.C., Chicago, Hollywood, New York, Savannah and Charleston.

It doesn’t help that many of the the things that make metro Atlanta attractive are spread out, experts said.

“The Peachtree Trolley Company provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of Atlanta, and visitors have enjoyed its tours for nearly a decade,” said William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The company’s knowledge of our city, the Southern hospitality they provide guests and the vintage feel of the trolley moving through Atlanta will all be missed.”

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Buckalew said one of the biggest concerns she and her husband had about the future of their trolley company had been how to deal with the homeless population during its downtown Atlanta tours.

“That has had a negative effect downtown,” she said.

Buckalew said one tour got the sight of a naked man “drunk and passed out” at 10 a.m. near their parking deck. Another time, she said, one man grabbed at a ticket agent.

“My husband and I don’t want something to happen to one of our employees, and it weighs on us,” she said.

Her husband works in the steel industry, and she’s an interior decorator.

Buckalew, born at what is now WellStar Cobb Hospital, said they’ll miss educating folks from near and far — about Marietta especially.

“I have enjoyed the excitement of sharing our town’s history,” she said.

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