I think the key IMO is that this trolley, along with serving the locals, will be greater utilized by tourists/convention goers. It's so easy to just ask the concierge "where can i go for a quick bite/drink/etc" and it's great to hear them say "take the X trolley, runs up and down high street for free until midnight". It's better then taking a guide/paper map around that a hotel may offer, and it's great to know there is a reliable, simple, free service the city provides when you are unfamiliar with the city.
And I agree that google maps serves everything, but I can imagine many out-of-towners not having researched out where to go, too tired/unable to walk around and explore, or not tech savy with a smartphone/gps, like this lady.
How is "take x trolley" any different than "take the #2/21 to 3rd ave. it picks up in 5 minutes across the street"?
I get that this could and would just as easily serve locals but much of the conversation seems to focus on serving tourists. Ultimately it's sustained ridership across the city that's going to drive the development of multifaceted transit in Central Ohio.
Who runs, maintains and finances this? Sure there are opportunities for public-private but I'd bet good money that it falls back on COTA as they already have the resources and infrastructure in place. Frankly I'd rather see the related cost ls applied to needed service across the entire service area: expansion of late night service, improved bus stops, better rider communication-things that serve the community and would have a far greater impact on ridership.