Someday, when we’re not concentrating our efforts on battling COVID-19, we’re going to attempt to get back on track. Canalside will be hopping again, as will Larkinville, Chandlerville, and other prime regional destinations. When that day comes, we’re going to be looking for new forms of entertainment. During this time of unknowing and unassuredness, people are working on projects and ideas that they will implement once we win this battle.
When that day comes around, there is a certain new project underway that will surely put a smile on people’s faces. It’s called the WNY Trackless Train. I caught up with the owner, Matthew Foss, who gave me the backstory on this fun-loving project.
Where did you find this adorable train?
I bought it from a guy in Alexander NY. He had rented it out along with bounce houses and tents. He sold off the rest of the business first and this was left.
When did you buy it?
I’ve owned it since last fall.
Where did he get it from?
He purchased it new 3 years ago from a guy who makes them in Georgia. It was custom built.
What is needed for the train to operate?
The train has to operate on flat, hard surfaces such as concrete or blacktop. Stone can be kind of bumpy and grass of damp the train can get stuck. We also need room to park our 32 foot trailer, plus the truck, and room to load and you load (approximately 60 feet).
Tell us about the train?
There are 4 passenger cars – each car holds 6 children or 4 adults, and approximately 600 lbs per car.
How unique is this train?
To my knowledge we are the only trackless train that can be rented between Buffalo and Rochester. There is a guy in Rochester who has a smaller one, different style, different builder. Then the next guy is past Syracuse. The Zoo has one, so does The Fair, and a couple other groups. None are as nice as this, or that can be rented. It’s a very unique experience.
Does the train have any other fun features?
It has a CD player and each car has a speaker, it has color changing LED lights underneath.
So the train is rentable?
The train is rentable for public and private events.
Is it insured?
We are insured.
Where will this train travel to?
I travel anywhere in the WNY area.
Have you done any events?
We did 12 events. Mostly small lawn fetes, community nights, a few birthday parties. I drove my kids and the neighbors around a bunch. A bunch of stuff out near Henrietta.
You are the conductor?
I usually drive it, or I have helpers. If the event is small, I handle it myself. If it’s larger then I like to have a helper who takes tickets and helps load and unload.
How does the ticketing work?
We have done a couple events where people pay us per ride. I prefer to do a flat rate for the event and then if the event host wants to charge tickets to make the money back or even a profit we are happy to collect the tickets.
We did a 3 day lawn fete at St. Christopher’s in Tonawanda. We charged a flat rate, they charged per ticket – I think like $3 or $4. When I counted up the tickets at the end we figured they made a profit of a couple hundred bucks. So it didn’t end up costing them anything and we knew what we were getting ahead of time.
Does the train have a name?
It doesn’t have a name, the previous owner called it The Peyton Express after his daughter. We have thrown around The 716 Express, but nothing concrete at this point.
How can people find you?
For now, we’re on Facebook.