SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 9, 2010

Trolley rivals cut deal: CityView rides out of Salem

SALEM — The trolley war is over.

Boston-based CityView Trolley Tours — which set up business in 2007 in Salem, where Salem Trolley had been the lone operator for 25 years — is leaving town.

That puts an end to a business competition that, at its worst point, had escalated to shouting matches, aggressive driving and accusations of unfair business tactics.

"It's been great doing business in Salem, but it's just such a small sightseeing market for two companies," said Michael Thomas, owner of CityView. "Financially, it just didn't make sense to continue."

Instead, CityView launched a new trolley operation in Key West, Fla., last week, and sold some of its Salem assets to Salem Trolley, including its telephone number, Web address, pushcarts and some office equipment.

"We saw an opportunity to expand our market a little bit," David Butler, co-owner of Salem Trolley, said of the purchase. "Essentially, Salem Trolley was the only one in town for a number of years, and then they came in and it was tough for two companies to work in the same marketplace."

Neither business owner would reveal how much Salem Trolley paid CityView for the assets, but they said a decision was reached last week.

"We're excited to be able to serve Salem the way we always have," said Butler, of Danvers.

Salem Trolley, which opened in 1982, was the only operator in town until CityView moved in and ran competing trolley tours for three seasons.

"The trolley wars were very public," said Kate Fox, director of Destination Salem, the city's tourism office, "and so I do think it will be more peaceful — more peaceful at the Salem ferry landing and in front of the Visitor Center."

Already, the intense rivalry has dissipated.

"We hope to continue to work with them by directing customers from Boston up to Salem and so forth," Thomas said.

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