The Lake Minnetonka Trolley takes residents and visitors around town with a little history and touch of fun.
If you’re in Wayzata this month and you want to go to the Wednesday evening Music by the Lake concert in Depot Park, you can hop on the Lake Minnetonka Trolley. Or maybe you live in Wayzata, and on a summer Tuesday afternoon you need to go to the library, the bank and the post office. You can hop on the Lake Minnetonka Trolley and get dropped off and picked up at all of those spots.
The Lake Minnetonka Trolley runs a one-hour loop on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The trolley started making its rounds on June 13 and will be running a route through Wayzata that includes businesses, public parking lots and the beach until August 31. On Wednesday evenings in July, the trolley runs a four-stop route that starts at the Village Shops, includes the West Clock Tower parking lot, and is designed to get you to and from Depot Park before and after the Music by the Lake concerts. The Wednesday route runs from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. with service every 15 minutes.
When the Wayzata City Council had to discontinue the city trolley service they ran, a few locals decided they wanted to do something to bring the trolley back. So four years ago they formed a nonprofit called Lake 360 Inc. and hired Renee’s Royal Valet limousine company to operate it. Jack Amdal is one of the local residents on the board of Lake 360, and he says that the partnership with Renee’s is what makes the Lake Minnetonka Trolley financially viable.
“We don’t have any employees,” Amdal says. “The company carries the insurance and pays the drivers and handles all the maintenance on the trolley. We pay them to use the trolley two days a week all summer and on Wednesday nights in July.”
The board is all volunteer, so the only overhead Lake 360 has is the cost of renting the trolley. The sponsorships that local businesses buy generate all the revenue for the trolley, which is free for riders.
The Lake Minnetonka Trolley is popular with Wayzata residents, but it is also an attraction for visitors. Amdal says that 80 percent of the riders are from out of town. That’s good news for the businesses that sponsor the trolley and are stops on the route. With all the cities around the lake increasingly looking to tourism as an economic force for the region, something like the Lake Minnetonka Trolley gives Wayzata a way to stand out and makes visiting the city easier and more fun for tourists exploring the area.
“Visitors ask questions about the town and the history of the area,” Amdal says. “One of the drivers has been with us for the whole four years. He has a lot of knowledge about the city and likes answering questions and telling stories.”
For residents, the trolley is both fun and practical. It makes running errands in Wayzata in the summertime a little less like a chore and a bit more like a special family activity. A cranky toddler who is not inclined to cheerfully accompany you to the bank and the post office is likely to find a ride on the trolley an altogether different outing.
“Support the trolley by riding the trolley,” the Facebook page for the Lake Minnetonka Trolley says—so hop on.
Route information and a map are available on the Renee’s Royal Valet website.