365 Things to Do in Memphis #153: Take the Riverfront Loop

Posted by Holly Whitfield | June 1st 2012 1322 8

When it comes to downtown mass transit, Memphis goes old school with a light rail trolley system. Assignment #153 in the 365 Things to Do in Memphis is to slow your roll on the trolley’s Riverfront Loop.

Update, Nov. 12, 2015: Since June of 2014 the Memphis rail trolley system has been out of service for maintenance and repairs. Regular city buses as well as trolley buses (buses that look like trolleys) have been in use.

Today, the Memphis Daily News and the Memphis Business Journal reported that a federal grant has been secured for purchasing three new trolleys. Add that to the one that’s fixed and ready to go, and it looks like Memphis might have at least some of our rail trolley routes back by mid-2016. No word yet on which routes will return. 

In the meantime, you can still take the trolley buses on the Main Street route. I’ll be sure to update this with shiny new photos as soon as the trolley are back in use! 


MATA operates three different trolley lines, but Riverfront loop is my favorite – it makes a wide oval on Main St. and Riverside Drive from the Pinch at downtown’s north end to the South Main Arts District.

There’s a bit of a running joke in town that you can out-walk a trolley. And it’s true – the pace of the downtown trolleys is leisurely at best. Riding the whole Riverfront loop will take about 30 – 45 minutes.

Trolley, Memphis, Tenn.

It’s not exactly the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, but it is a great way to see a lot of downtown Memphis in one go. The views from the car are incredible especially once it rumbles onto Riverside Drive and you’ve got a clear shot at the Mississippi River.

Rides are $1 each, or .50 for senior citizens. During the week, you can catch a trolley at any one of 35 stops every 10 minutes between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the trolleys run until 1 a.m., and on Sundays, service stops at 6 p.m.

Get more info on the trolley system here.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Nikole says:

    The trolleys are not free from 11 AM – 1 PM.  The reduced lunch fare has been discontinued.  The fares are $1.00 per person; $.50 for Senior Citizens; 4 year old & under are free.  Also, there is a limited free ride trolley from MLK (Linden) to G. E. Patterson on Trolley nights from 6 PM – 9 PM.  Anyone interested in riding trolleys frequently (even if its just for the weekend) should consider getting a pass. MATA offers a number of them for different rates.

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