Trolley signs will be posted along the Dana Point PCH Trolley route. Image: Courtesy of the city of Dana PointBy Allison Jarrell and Andrea Swayne

After the cities of Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano both met their minimum ridership goals for their 2015 trolley programs, city officials are exploring the potential to team up for a connected trolley system for the summer of 2016.

In September, the Dana Point City Council received and filed a report on its trolley pilot program, which well-exceeded the target ridership, according to Brad Fowler, director of public works and engineering. The goal over the summer was to have 10 boardings per hour, or 500 per day, in order to secure grant funding from the Orange County Transportation Authority.

According to the city’s data, the trolley had 17,707 riders on the weekends between June 26 and Sept. 7, with an average of 14.8 riders per hour. Special events such as the Wine Festival in June and summer concerts in July and August attracted 4,894 riders, with an average of 54.38 riders per hour. The summer’s grand total was 22,601 riders, with an average of 17.52 riders per hour.

Fowler reported to the council that not only will the program continue next year, but the success of the inaugural trolley will allow the city to expand the service to seven days a week next summer. In addition, the vehicle contractor will be able to replace the leased shuttle vans used last summer with open-air trolleys.

In San Juan Capistrano, the City Council discussed the results of its summer trolley program at the Nov. 17 council meeting. The San Juan trolley, which ran from June 12 through Sept. 5, attracted 4,779 riders—including 4,010 riders on the weekends, 697 riders on the Fourth of July and 72 riders for the San Juan Summer Nights Concert Series.

Staff reminded the SJC City Council that in January, OCTA “will issue a call for projects to fund traffic circulator, including trolleys.” The funding is under Measure M2 Project V, a half-cent sales tax used to fund transportation projects. Staff reported that “grant guidelines are currently being finalized by OCTA staff and will be completed by December.”

Staff said Tuesday night that if the City Council authorizes an application for funds in January, the city could consider partnering with the city of Dana Point.

“Interest has been expressed by many of the passengers this past summer to provide trolley service to Dana Point since it has many attractions including the Dana Point Harbor, Doheny Park, and the beach,” staff reported. “The city of San Juan Capistrano is scheduling a meeting with representatives from the city of Dana Point to plan a route and stops that will serve both cities. Once the preferred route and stops are selected, staff will then determine if one or two trolleys are needed to provide service.”

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