City of Washington launches new Tar-Pamlico Trolley to relieve parking stress

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – The city of Washington has been declining in population with a 2024 population of 9,283 which is a 5.99% decrease from 2020 when the population was 9,875, according to the World Population Review.

Despite the drop in population, residents say they’ve noticed a busier downtown and are wondering how the city plans to keep up with the attraction.

Preston Phillips, a former resident of the area says, “It’s a beautiful town then, it’s a beautiful town now but of course it’s growing quite a bit. This is a very special place.”

The Phillips family grew up in the Washington area and though some family members have moved, the family comes back to visit loved ones still living in Washington.

“Washington was about the same size it is now but it was a lot less busy. I always thought that Washington was a special place because of the water and the fact that people want to come here and spend a little bit of time, and get to relax and enjoy the water, makes perfect sense to me so the AirBNBs are a great addition to the town and help people from outside of the area have a place to stay and relax, and just enjoy themselves while they’re here in Washington,” former resident, Lee Phillips told WITN.

Phillips says parking can be a headache everywhere but there are ways to keep up with the growth. “Parking is a regular problem or complaint that people have no matter where they are. I think a parking garage in Downtown Washington would probably take away from the aesthetic and it’s appeal and the charm of Downtown. Parking as well as widening of some roads but not many, don’t want to take away the charm of the town and just managing that growth in a very, very incremental and intentional way,” Lee Phillips says.

Former Public Works Director of 30 years, Adam Waters, is taking action by launching the new Tar-Pamlico Trolley.

“I’ve started a free trolley system in the city of Washington, working in the Downtown area, giving people rides from the parking lots and to the businesses and restaurants they want to go to,” Waters told WITN.

Running Thursday through Saturday, Waters says, “This does a lot for the older people. A lot of the people that I was riding today at lunch were elderly and needing lifts. They really appreciated it.”

The Phillips say it’s a great addition.

“Any place that has controlled growth is good. Uncontrolled growth is not good at all. Controlled growth like Washington appears to have right now is really good,” Preston Phillips told WITN.

The Tar-Pamlico Trolley started Thursday, May 16th, and will run Thursday through Saturday during lunch and dinner times, which Waters says is the busiest time. Best of all, the trolly is free.