Langley’s free shuttle is now an award-winning free shuttle.
The Langley Main Street Association received the award for “Community Partnership” May 16 at Washington Main Street’s Excellence on Main Awards Ceremony in Vancouver, Wash. The ceremony was held in conjunction with RevitalizeWA, Washington State’s Preservation and Main Street Conference.
“We are thrilled to present this award to the Langley Main Street Association and its many partners who have demonstrated working together can truly advance the goals of all entities for the benefit of residents and visitors alike,” said Sarah Hansen, Washington Main Street program coordinator. “Their list of accomplishments is already very impressive, and we know there are great things still to come.”
Main Street Board president Janet Ploof, program manager Michaela Marx Wheatley, city planer Jeff Arango, city councilwoman Rene Neff, and Main Street board member Fred Lundahl, shuttle driver, mechanic and driving force behind the project, were in Vancouver to accept the award.
“It is very exciting for a small organization that has only been an official Main Street program for a year to win such a significant award,” Ploof said. “Even better, this award is not just about a project or Main Street it recognizes our amazing community. We all are winners.”
The state organization recognized the shuttle project as an outstanding example of how a community comes together to make a project happen. The shuttle is owned and operated by the Langley Main Street Association. It is entirely run by volunteer drivers. The Port of South Whidbey and the City of Langley backed the project with grant funding. Many individual community organizations work with Langley Main Street either as a source of drivers or collaborated with Main Street to have shuttle service for their events.
Mayor Fred McCarthy said the award is a great achievement for the shuttle partners.
“The partnership between the Langley Main Street Association and the City of
Langley is transforming our city with inspired volunteer energy and a promise of economic renewal,” McCarthy said. “It is so exciting to be associated with these motivated professionals from our business community. We are a better city for our collaborative efforts with the Langley Main Street Association.”
The shuttle first began zipping through town last summer. The Langley Main Street Association worked with a multitude of organizations and individuals to offer a free shuttle service connecting Langley’s historic downtown core with the Langley Marina, off-site parking, and several event venues outside the downtown district. During the summer months, LMSA began offering rides for visitors and residents, all of whom seemed to enjoy being chauffeured in the six-passenger golf cart, driven by local “celebrities” including the mayor and city council members.
A six-passenger shuttle may not seem significant, but it was an important transportation step for a small town of 1,000 people, Hansen said as she introduced Langley Main Street at the awards ceremony.
“It fits our scale and reflects the values of our community,” Ploof said. “It is a wonderful way to move people around Langley without having to be dependent on automobiles. And it make people happy.”
In addition to its role as people mover, the shuttle, driven by Langley Main Street’s new summer interns Laura and Erin Hilton, will also take the summer flower-watering burden from the city by pulling a water tank behind the environmentally friendly shuttle.
The organization is excited to have found a great way to keep the flowering summer color watered, not to mention the benefit of replacing the large gas guzzling water truck with its green electric cart, Ploof said.
The award recognizes the first year of the shuttle, which served as a trial period leading up to the Main Street purchase of the new electric car. During the first year, then-Mayor Larry Kwarsick and Arango partnered with the organization, helping to bring the idea to fruition by sharing expertise regarding rules and regulations. Once a golf cart zone ordinance was passed, Main Street rented a shuttle to test the idea and began partnering with several of Langley’s biggest events including DjangoFest Northwest and the Whidbey Island Area Fair to provide transportation services. The feedback was so positive that soon representatives from the Island County Fairgrounds Association as well as the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts joined Main Street committees, and the Port of South Whidbey became involved in the project.
Many community organizations continue to contribute to the success of the shuttle, including volunteer drivers from the Langley Community Club, Langley Men’s Club and several local merchants. Volunteer drivers also include those from the South Whidbey Historical Society who share their Langley history expertise during driving shifts.
The Excellence on Main Awards, organized by the Washington State Main Street Program, recognizes communities, organizations, and individuals who are helping to achieve economic vitality and build sustainable communities through downtown revitalization and preservation. Washington’s Main Street Program is housed in the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and administered, under contract, by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.
To volunteer as shuttle driver, call 360-929-9333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.