New Aruba streetcar shows off improved downtown


Chris Roberts writes enthusiastically about Aruba’s embellished downtown area and the new, free electric trolleys: a green single level trolley and blue double decker with lower and upper seating area for better views of Oranjestad.

If you haven’t been back to Aruba for a while, a return visit reveals an array of upgrades and additions. Two new hotels have opened; one along Eagle Beach called Blue Residences, a three tower condo/hotel property. The other is the celebrated Ritz-Carlton Resort & Spa further up the coast at Palm Beach.

Cruise passengers, hotel guests and locals alike are jumping on the new electric trolleys which circle through the downtown capital of Oranjestad. The mile and a half route, which crosses L.G. Smith Boulevard, starts near the cruise ship pier and travels along Main Street behind Royal Plaza Mall and Renaissance Mall.

This novel form of transportation is a first for the region. No other Caribbean country has anything like it. The trolley is a combined effort of Dutch tramrail company HTM, American rail consultant SSE, American Planners Association, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and Carlos Profet – coordinating architect for the Mainstreet improvement program, a broader project to upgrade the downtown.

The best part is the price to ride the 20 minute loop – FREE. The downside is a somewhat unpredictable schedule. Its published schedule states Monday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm. Sometimes the trolley is not to be found. When all is a go, however, the trolley runs slowly (a good thing) to allow riders to see what they are passing – new retail ventures, colorful, renovated buildings and a thriving downtown.

[. . .] The trolley has several boarding points including Plaza Chipi Chipi, where new designer shops have opened. Another is Plaza Daniel Leo, a stop on the return to allow riders to cross the tracks and enter Renaissance Mall and Crystal Casino.

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