For those new to the area, those not wanting to brave Gay St. traffic or those simply looking for something interesting to do on a Friday afternoon, the Knoxville Area Transit (KAT) trolley is a city staple not to be ignored.
Introduced to the city in 1890, the original streetcars ran on electricity and followed tracts in the ground to ensure that the ride was as smooth and quick as possible.
Although now they’re more retro-fied buses, complete with hybrid engines and onboard Wi-Fi, the trolleys still make good on that promise to provide great downtown transportation. And best of all, it’s free!
The trolley system runs three routes, denoted orange, green and blue, around the city and the university campus.
The Orange line runs through the heart of campus along Volunteer Blvd., all the way to University Commons and back downtown via Worlds Fair Park. For on-campus students looking for ways to get into the city or make their way to Publix without a 30-minute walk or a 30-minute wait for an Uber, this is a great option to get out of the dorms. The Orange line runs every 15 minutes Monday through Saturday.
The Blue Line makes stops every seven minutes throughout the week along a course following Church Ave. past Market Square and back out to the Civic Coliseum and Auditorium. Host to the Knoxville Ice Bears, a variety of concerts and even TV game shows, the Coliseum is an action-packed way to spend a Saturday night.
Finally, for any wanting a neck-craning tour through the gorgeous buildings of old city and the vibrant lights of Gay St., the Green line is the peak of Knoxville Transportation. Running every 20 minutes throughout the week, the Green line makes a loop around all of downtown and out to the breweries and restaurants of Old City.
Additionally, for those with cars wanting to travel downtown on a weeknight but not wanting to face the steep prices of parking, the Green Line stops directly next to the free parking areas located in Old City before looping back towards the Bijou Theatre.
Beyond the historic trolley, KAT offers a variety of services to Knoxville and the surrounding areas.
The fixed-route bus service runs throughout the city, campus and beyond the highway. For students living outside the Fort and not wanting to brave the parking scene at UTK, this is a great option for increasing mobility and engaging with downtown. Unfortunately, unlike the trolleys, the standard routes do charge for rides.
Additionally, KAT offers direct door-to-door service for those with disabilities who are unable to ride standard public transportation. These LIFT rides must be scheduled at least a day in advance and cost $2 each.
For more information on the history of the trolley, specific stops and updated route schedules, visit https://katbus.com/.