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Sun Gazette: Legislation Could Allow Trolley-Pub Patrons in Clarendon to Drink on Board Print


Created:  Thursday, January 9, 2014  11:45AM


Patrons taking the Arlington Trolley Pub on a spin through Clarendon would be able to drink alcoholic beverages along the way, if legislation patroned by Del. Patrick Hope makes its way through the General Assembly.

But the proposal could find itself opposed by County Board members.

Hope (D-47th) says the intent of his measure is to clarify rules of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) board and to allow those riding as passengers in vehicles operated by common carriers – such as limos and motorcoaches – to enjoy a libation. But he acknowledged to the Sun Gazette that the measure was sought by the owners of the pub trolley, which began operating last year but has been unable to permit riders to consume alcohol due to an ABC ruling.

“I make no judgment as to the trolley pub’s business or whether they should be allowed to operate,” Hope told the Sun Gazette. “The bill benefits more than just the trolley pub – the Virginia Motorcoach Association supports this change for the whole industry.”

If you hear a “ka-boom” in the vicinity of the county government’s headquarters on Clarendon Boulevard, it may just be the heads of County Board members exploding in rage.

Board members last year blasted the entire concept of the trolley pub, and only calmed down (slightly) when they learned that those using it could not consume alcohol. But they have remained upset about the human-powered trolley’s impact on traffic in one of Arlington’s most congested areas.

County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes, who lives not far from Clarendon Boulevard, said that while she understood the appeal (to some) of the trolley-pub idea, she was concerned about it and the general concept of pub-crawling.

“They really change the character of a place,” said Hynes, who was not aware Hope had introduced the bill until informed by a reporter.

Hynes voiced concern that those on the trolley could fall off into a street where drivers often ignore posted speed limits.

“We need to find some coexisting ways,” she said, to balance the desires of those who want to enjoy the nightlife with the desire of residents to have some peace and quiet.

The 14-person trolleys allow individuals to spend two hours traveling the Clarendon corridor, stopping so they can pop into drinking establishments along the way. The vehicle is designed so patrons can pedal along with the driver, if they wish.

Before hopping on, those using the service must sign a waiver acknowledging that using the service entails significant risks that could “result in physical or emotional injury, paralysis, death or damage to myself, to property or third parties.”

Currently, anyone imbibing on or around the trolley could be ticketed by police for drinking in public, which in Virginia is a Class 4 misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than $250. The penalty would not involve jail time.