Here is what you need to know about 2019 summer trolleys in South Orange County

by in News

Summer has become the season of trolleys in much of south Orange County.

Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and Newport Beach have already kicked off their seasons giving free rides to folks who ditch their cars to get around the coastal communities. In a couple weeks, Laguna Beach’s year-round trolley will add weekdays to its off-season weekend schedule.

Riders can take trolleys from Laguna Beach to San Clemente if they want.

And, shuttle buses are roaming the streets of Huntington Beach and Rancho Mission Viejo this summer as well.

Cities are expanding their offerings to keep up with the growing popularity of the trolleys among residents and tourists. In a couple of weeks, San Clemente will add a second route to its system connecting the Outlets at San Clemente and the city’s northside and hooking up with Dana Point’s trolley routes.

More than 115,000 riders boarded San Clemente’s downtown trolley last summer, a 32 percent increase over 2017.

“It far outperformed what we anticipated,” San Clemente management analyst Jonathan Knechtel said of the downtown route.

Dana Point is experimenting with how late into the year people’s interest in its trolleys will last by keeping the system running on weekends past Labor Day and into October, senior management analyst Jennifer Anderson said in an e-mail. Nearly 80,000 passengers hopped on board the city’s trolleys last year.

The trolleys and shuttles are free to ride in all cities. The Orange County Transportation Authority is picking up most of the tab with money from the half-cent sales tax collected for transportation programs. Grants and city funds pay for the rest.

Several cities have a smartphone app to track when the trolley will be arriving at a certain stop.

Trolley riders board at the Ritz Carlton to downtown Laguna Beach. (Photo by Ana Venegas, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Here is more information on how to get around on the trolleys:

San Clemente

The trolleys run every 15 minutes from noon to 10 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Rides end on Sept. 29.

The city’s northside “Blue Line” will run from Camino de Estrella, where it connects to Dana Point’s trolleys, to the Outlets at San Clemente. The city’s downtown “Red Line” runs from San Clemente Pier to the outlets.

Dana Point

The city’s main trolleys will run every 15 minutes from noon to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays.

Shuttles to connect downtown to Dana Point Harbor will run every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

The weekday service ends on Labor Day, but the weekend service will run through the Oct. 6.

San Juan Capistrano

Through Labor Day, trolleys run every 20 minutes from the city’s Metrolink station to Stonehill Drive and Del Obispo Street, where it connects to Dana Point’s trolleys.

The hours are from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. Trolleys will also run on select Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for the city’s concert series at Historic Town Center Park.

Newport Beach

Through Labor Day, the trolleys run every 15 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The vehicles connect Balboa Pier to the Avon Street Parking Lot off Pacific Coast Highway.

Laguna Beach

The Short Coastal Trolley runs along Pacific Coast Highway from the city’s northside to Mission Hospital’s Laguna Beach campus, while the Long Coastal Trolley runs along the highway from downtown to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Laguna Niguel.

The trolleys will transition to their summer schedule in a couple of weeks.

Huntington Beach

A nonprofit tourism organization, Visit Huntington Beach, is funding shuttles to run every hour on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from downtown to Bella Terra, and from downtown to Bolsa Chica State Beach. The program lasts through Sept. 1.

The city is no longer funding the shuttles, except for special events such as the Fourth of July and the US Open of Surfing, the city’s transportation manager, Bob Stachelski, said.

Rancho Mission Viejo

The community’s RanchRide shuttle runs to San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point and San Clemente from 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays until Sept. 1. Rides are also provided to events such as San Clemente OceanFest and Mission San Juan Capistrano’s summer concert series.

The San Clemente trolleys await their inaugural ride at the parking lot at Main Beach on Friday, May 26, 2017. (Photo By Jeff Antenore, Contributing Photographer)