Beginning next week, visitors to Van Buren will find it much easier to take in the historic sites the city has to offer.
A bus trolley to shuttle visitors and purchased by the Van Buren Advertising and Promotion Commission arrived Wednesday.
A&P commission members voted in February to purchase the 2014 Hometown Trolley for $144,221 from National Bus Sales and Leasing.
Maryl Koeth, director of the A&P, said plans call for the 22-passenger bus trolley to operate downtown, shuttling passengers from the Arkansas Missouri Railroad passenger train to shops on Main Street and local historical sites.
"We will learn and take it slow to determine what the needs will be for the trolley," Koeth said. "We will set a policy as to how the trolley will be used while being flexible as to what we want to do."
Mindy London, owner of Firefly Boutique and Gifts in historic Van Buren, said the trolley will be a big help in getting train passengers to shops in downtown and the Crawford County Courthouse.
"This will be an extraordinary asset to the visitors in our city," said Debbie Foliart, chairman of the A&P commission. "It will give them the ability to see more while they are here."
Koeth said the trolley can be used for special events like the downtown festivals and Tales of the Crypt at Fairview Cemetery. It also will be helpful in shuttling event-goers from off-site parking, she said.
"School buses and vans have been used in the past," Koeth said. "Now, the trolley will offer something special to visitors."
The trolley, which has about 10,000 miles, is loaded with extra options since National Bus Sales used it as a demonstration model, Koeth said.
It has an electric ramp for handicapped accessibility and tie-downs for wheel chairs as well as security cameras.
"And, it came with a tankful of gasoline," Koeth said.
Experienced Van Buren School District drivers Buddy Turner and Tommy Gregory will be taking advantage of the tankful of gas to become familiar with how the trolley drives.
"It turns sharper than a school bus," Turner said. "I will have to get used to that. It is wider than a bus, but not as long. It drive a lot smoother."
One of the first official duties for the bus trolley will be transporting A&M Railroad passengers Wednesday morning from the train depot in downtown Van Buren to the Drennen-Scott Historic Site.
"We are really excited about the future of the trolley," said Tom Wing, DSHS director. "We are sure it will mean an increase in our visitors."