Galena approves free downtown shuttle service for this fall

GALENA, Ill. — The City of Galena is partnering with Jo Daviess County Transit to offer a free shuttle to the downtown district this fall, with the potential to expand the service next year.

Galena City Council members this week unanimously approved the service, which the city plans to call “Galena Free Ride.”

The shuttle will use a Jo Daviess County Transit vehicle and driver to transport riders between the Depot Park parking lot on the east side of the Galena River and the Green Street Plaza near City Hall. It will operate from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays from Sept. 4 through Oct. 30.

The shuttle will be free for riders, with the city paying $20 for each hour of service. The total cost for the service this season is expected to be less than $1,500, council documents state.

Council Member Robert Hahn said approving the agreement was a “no-brainer.”

“We’re starting out now with the option to expand it next year, I would hope,” he said. “I think it’s a great deal for the city.”

Mayor Terry Renner confirmed that this season will be a trial, with the possibility of expanding the service in 2022.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said. “I think we all agree that we need something.”

The shuttle is one of several ideas city staff has pursued recently to address parking problems in the city after hearing from frustrated residents. Earlier this summer, the council directed staff to investigate options such as a shuttle service and the installation of smart kiosks for paid parking.

Council members this week also considered a suggestion from City Administrator Mark Moran to hire a parking consultant who would study smart kiosks as part of the city’s overall parking strategy.

The council unanimously voted against pursuing the services of a consultant, however.

Hahn said he felt a study would not provide any information the city does not already know.

“We’ve had three parking surveys in the last 12 years,” he said. “I don’t think we need a fourth to tell us what we’ve already been told.”

He said he supports exploring a kiosk system, and he feels any studies related to such a system could be completed by the company that would supply the equipment, rather than an outside consultant.

In addition to the Galena Free Ride program, a private enterprise called Dubuque and Galena Trolley will offer shuttle rides from Galena hotels to downtown Galena beginning Friday, Aug. 27.

Owner Randy Thompson said he decided to start the service after speaking with a local hotel owner who said his customers’ biggest complaint is a lack of downtown parking.

Dubuque and Galena Trolley will operate from 4 to 9 p.m. on Fridays and from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays this fall. More information is available by visiting the business’ Facebook page or calling 563-451-9092.