Balboa Peninsula Trolley Returns, Crosswalk Update

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Passengers disembark from the Balboa Peninsula Trolley during the inaugural run.
— Photo by Christopher Trela ©

The Balboa Peninsula Trolley returns this weekend, Newport Beach officials stated this week.

Councilwoman Diane Dixon, whose district covers the peninsula, made the announcement during Tuesday’s Council meeting.

“Let the fun begin to get around the peninsula and serve our businesses and residents and visitors,” she said.

In a press release on Wednesday, city staff hyped the return of the free shuttle service.

“The familiar gold and burgundy trolleys will shuttle visitors and locals to enjoy and explore all that the Peninsula has to offer,” city spokeswoman Mary Locey wrote.

The trolley’s second year will roll out on Saturday, with a few changes, including the earlier start date in order to run the service on Memorial Day.

There are 22 designated stops along the peninsula. Riders can get on and off at any stop.

A slightly modified route has the trolley first stopping next to the Avon Street parking lot, which is located near the intersection of Tustin Avenue and Avon Street within Mariners’ Mile. Trolley drivers will provide riders with a code to cover the cost of parking in the lot.

The free service is scheduled to operate each Saturday and Sunday during the summer, as well as Fourth of July. Regular hours of operation are from 9:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.

A fleet of four vehicles will run the service. Authorities estimate a shuttle will be at each stop every 15 minutes, although it may be delayed during heavy traffic.

“For those planning a day at the beach, the trolley can accommodate bicycles, surfboards under six-feet long and beach gear,” Locey wrote in the announcement.

Riders can obtain real-time trolley locations online or by downloading the mobile app “Ride Systems” and searching for Newport Beach from the list of agencies.

There has been a mixture of support and opposition from locals.

Critics have raised concerns about the cost of the program. In 2016, the city was awarded $685,454 in grant funding by Orange County Transportation Authority for a seven-year operating period and is required to match the funding by 12 percent.

Others have said that the shuttle isn’t as popular as the city reports seems to indicate. According to officials, last year the trolleys carried a total of 23,560 passengers during the 26-day trial period. 

A bicyclist rides across a crosswalk on the Balboa Peninsula. The city is working on enhancing the safety and visibility of several crossings on the peninsula.
— Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach

Another Balboa Peninsula project was briefly discussed during Tuesday’s Council meeting, as Dixon asked about an update on the Balboa Peninsula Crossings Improvement project.

The Public Works Department is installing “newer, safer, better” crosswalks on the Balboa Peninsula, Dixon explained.

“We all are, I think, driving more carefully as we see these new crosswalks across the peninsula,” Dixon said.

This has been an exciting project, said Senior Civil Engineer Brad Sommers. It came from a transportation study requested by the community in an effort to increase awareness about the more than 40 crossings on the peninsula, he noted.

Last year, Council approved implementing a number of enhancements that came out of the study. The first phase revises current striping and signage, and the second phase will improve curbs, street lighting and flashing beacons.

More visible crosswalks and a “robust” pedestrian warning signage plan have been incorporated as part of the project, Sommers said.

The project should be “substantially complete” by the end of the week, Sommers said. There will likely be a few “catch up” items over the next few weeks, he added.

There have been quite a few positive comments about it, he said, as well as a number of questions. As a result, the city created a FAQ page on the city website.


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