Bal­boa Penin­sula may get trol­ley ser­vice

New­port Beach hires a con­sul­tant to study the idea for re­liev­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Hannah Fry hannah.fry@la­times.com

New­port Beach is look­ing into a trol­ley-style ser­vice that could move vis­i­tors and lo­cals around the of­ten-con­gested Bal­boa Penin­sula dur­ing the busy sum­mer months.

The penin­sula is nar­row, with a sin­gle main road that be­comes crowded on hot sum­mer week­ends. Beach­go­ers and shop­pers of­ten cir­cle around Bal­boa Boule­vard as they hunt for an open park­ing spot.

In re­sponse to a grow­ing de­sire for public trans­porta­tion from some res­i­dents and busi­ness own­ers, the city in May hired Dan Boyle & As­so­ciates, a San Diego trans­porta­tion plan­ning firm, to look into po­ten­tial routes, cost and the mar­ket for a tran­sit ser­vice along Bal­boa Boule­vard.

The study, which is ex­pected to be com­pleted by the end of July, will cost about $10,000, ac­cord­ing to a pro­posal from the firm.

Though the idea is in its early stages, Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon said a trol­ley ser­vice could in­crease ac­cess to Bal­boa Vil­lage, home to the Fun Zone, the ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter Ex­plorOcean and restau­rants.

The city is ren­o­vat­ing Bal­boa Vil­lage with streetscape and sig­nage up­grades and re­pairs to busi­ness fa­cades.

“The last re­main­ing co­nun­drum is how to get peo­ple down there,” Dixon said.

This isn’t the first time public trans­porta­tion has been con­sid­ered for the penin­sula.

In the mid-1980s, a trol­ley-like bus ser­vice was avail­able along Coast High­way and the Bal­boa Penin­sula and at New­port Cen­ter. How­ever, the city did not have the funds to sus­tain the line, and the ser­vice ended af­ter one sum­mer.

Some Or­ange County beach com­mu­ni­ties, such as La­guna Beach, have found suc­cess in op­er­at­ing sim­i­lar sys­tems.

La­guna Beach trol­leys are free and run along Coast High­way ev­ery Fri­day, Satur­day and Sun­day from March through June 25.

Dana Point is set to launch its own ser­vice this sum­mer.

Dixon en­vi­sions the Bal­boa trans­porta­tion ser­vice as pri­vately man­aged and funded through cus­tomers in­stead of res­i­dents.

The ser­vice could al­low rid­ers to park out­side the penin­sula and use the trol­ley while shop­ping and dining in the down­town area.

The sys­tem would help move peo­ple through­out the penin­sula in­stead of con­cen­trat­ing vis­i­tors in one area, said city Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Direc­tor Kim Brandt.

“Once you get a spot down there, you feel like you’ve scored,” Brandt said. “Most peo­ple don’t want to move their car again. This would give them an­other op­tion.”

Don Leach Coast­line Pi­lot

NEW­PORT BEACH is hop­ing to du­pli­cate the suc­cess of the La­guna Beach trol­ley ser­vice.

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