Take a trolley ride with Center Grove’s Tim Batzloff
Writer / Michelle Kaufman
Photographer / Brian Brosmer
Tim Batzloff’s newest weekly job has him meeting people from all over the world and showing them the city of Indianapolis from a trolley.
Three seasons ago, Batzloff started driving the Indy Fun Tours trolley after seeing an ad for the job on Craigslist.
“I really didn’t know much about downtown Indy, I live in Greenwood,” Batzloff says. “I’d come down for Indians games and go to the Children’s Museum, didn’t really wander around the city too much until I started this trolley job. “Now, I try to go to little places around town and that way I can know what it’s like on the inside and tell people about it.”
Before getting the job, Batzloff took the tour and recorded it on his phone. After he drove St. Francis and Clare students to their location, Batzloff listened back to the tour and wrote down facts about the city and added in some of his own facts.
Batzloff jokes that two things don’t stop during his 75-minute tour — the wheels on the trolley spinning and his talking. Before his tours start, Batzloff talks to people on the street to ask them if they’d like to take the tour. One time, he asked Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri’s parents before they told him who they were.
“I do a lot more talking than anybody else on this trolley,” he says. “They said, ‘I don’t even know how you can talk so much three times a day for an hour and 20 minutes nonstop.’ But it’s the perfect job for me because I like to talk anyways.”
Like the people who take his tours, every day is a different experience for Batzloff.
“I get up every day and I think, ‘wow, what’s gonna happen today on the trolley?’” Batzloff says. “That’s the fun part
about this job, every day, I meet new people. On my [business] cards, it says the Indy Ambassador because I’m always talking about Indianapolis.”
When he’s not on the trolley, Batzloff is the father of two college-age girls and works part-time at FedEx. Additionally, he is a substitute bus driver for Center Grove schools.
The only stop on the tour is at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Inside the Speedway’s Hall of Fame Museum is a map where visitors can put a pin in the state or country that they’re from. Batzloff has had riders from Lithuania and one time, 25 women from Japan took his tour. One woman sat at the front and translated the tour.
“I get customers from all over the world that come here and they leave this town with a different perspective of the city,” Batzloff says. “It was so cool to hear the tour [in Japanese], and sometimes I’ll get people on this trolley that don’t know any English at all.”
During another tour, some of Batzloff’s passengers only spoke Portuguese. When the trolley stopped at the Speedway, Batzloff pulled up Google Translate to find out how to ask them if they were enjoying the city.
Batzloff’s trolley can’t show and talk about everything that Indianapolis has to offer, but it allows his passengers to see some things in the city that they can then go back to and explore.
“A lot of people don’t memorize all the things I say, it’s hard to do, but they get done and they’re like ‘remember that one place?’” Batzloff says.
As long as he is physically able, Batzloff sees himself driving the Indy Fun Tours trolley for the rest of his life.
The trolley can also be rented for private tours and wedding parties. Indy Fun Tours run Tuesday through Sunday with a driver other than Batzloff on the weekends. The tours do not run in the winter, but there are currently haunted tours with the Indianapolis Museum of Art through the month of October.
Tickets can be purchased online at indyfuntours.com or at Dick’s Last Resort, the pick-up and drop-off location for the trolley.