For more information about free-ride Saturdays on the Tuolumne Adventure Trolley, visit https://www.visittuolumne.com/free-adventure-trolley and https://www.tuolumnecountytransit.com/tuolumneadventuretrolley online.

Tuolumne County tourists and locals can get ready for new weekend options with free-ride Saturdays all day long on trolley-themed buses running between East Sonora, downtown Sonora, Columbia and Jamestown.

Tuolumne County transit and visitors bureau staff teamed up Thursday to educate business owners and local attractions staff on the soon-to-launch Tuolumne Adventure Trolley, which will provide free trolley service 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. each Saturday from May 4 to Sept. 30.

Trolleys are typically part of the Tuolumne County public transit bus fleet, and people normally pay $2 a ride. Trolleys also provide free service for special events from time to time.

This is the first time trolley service will be free on Saturdays for a whole summer, transit and visitors bureau staff said.

Mike Henry, a transit driver and safety officer, took county staff on an adventure trolley “familiarization ride” Thursday morning, and they were talking free-ride Saturdays before 11 a.m. at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. They did another free run at 1 p.m., and riders included out-of-towners and a local hotel owner.

The partnership between two agencies is part of a sustainability initiative to reduce vehicle traffic on local roads, Lisa Mayo, president and chief executive for the visitors bureau.

“Basically our trolleys went in a phone booth and came out tatted up as the Tuolumne Adventure Trolley,” Tyler Summersett with Tuolumne County transit said at Railtown. “For visitors and locals, it’s a more fun, free way to get around and see all three towns at once.”

The free-ride Saturdays route will begin at The Junction shopping center in East Sonora, with stops including Sonora Oaks Best Western, Aladdin Motor Inn, the visitors bureau in downtown Sonora, Courthouse Square, two stops at Columbia State Historic Park, back to Sonora and down Stockton Road with a stop near the Mother Lode Fairgrounds, Dragoon Gulch Trail and the Tuolumne County Museum and Historical Society, Country Inn and Miners Motel, then Rocca Park on Main street in Jamestown, Railtown 1897, back up to Heritage Inn Yosemite/Sonora, Crossroads Shopping Center and returning to The Junction.

People who showed to ride free with Henry at 1 p.m. Thursday included Nayna Patel, the owner of the Country Inn Sonora, and Oxnard residents A.J. Spiller and Anna Spiller.

“We were camping around, going to Yosemite, checking out Stanislaus National Forest,” A.J. Spiller said.

“We went to Beardsley and Cherry,” Anna Spiller said, referring to reservoirs in the Stanislaus and Tuolumne watersheds, respectively. “There was a lot more snow than I expected, on the sides of the road driving to Yosemite.”

The Spillers said they were staying at Heritage Inn and saw a flyer posted inviting people to come on the free ride Thursday. Their dog is being treated at a local veterinarian and they were looking for something to do in the Sonora area. The free tour sounded interesting.

“I love Sonora,” Anna Spiller said. “I love the old downtown. Reminds me of old towns with businesses on the ground floor and people living upstairs. You all have the best vet in the whole area, so we’re here.”

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

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