Survey Says: Classic Red Trolley

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Rendering of the proposed shuttle. — Courtesy of the city of Newport Beach ©
Rendering of the proposed shuttle.
— Courtesy of the city of Newport Beach ©

The votes are in, and the winner is – a classic red trolley.

The Balboa Peninsula Trolley, a free shuttle that will run on Saturdays and Sundays this summer, is getting a classic, red trolley design based on results from on online survey.

Residents could vote on one of five choices for a color and theme of the shuttle, which is scheduled to begin service this summer.

The City’s Deputy Community Development Director Brenda Wisneski presented preliminary results at the Balboa Village Advisory Committee’s Wednesday meeting.

The BVAC pledged its support for the red trolley look, also known as Scheme 3: Boardwalk Memories, on the survey.

“Trolleys are historically red,” Marcel Ford, committee member from the Balboa Village Merchants Association, noted of the design.

“You wouldn’t mistake it for anything other than what it is,” at-large representative Jim Stratton remarked of the trolley’s vintage look.

The “shuttle bus” form was flatly rejected when the project began, so enthusiasm for the old fashioned trolley is understandable. Only the first year of trolley service will require an actual bus form. Should the trolley enter a second summer in 2018, those vehicles will be motorized trolleys, similar to those used in Laguna Beach.

While the results are not official until March 17, Wisneski said, “I wouldn’t expect results to be any different.”

In addition to the committee’s support of Scheme 3, longtime resident Howard Hall recalled the days when he saw the original cable cars that ran down the peninsula as a child.

“I lived through the original red cars. I used to wave to them. I sure hope the new ones are not as noisy, as they rumbled down the street,” he said with a laugh. The committee assured him they would not be.

As of Wednesday, the online survey revealed a near tie between “The Wave” of Scheme 2 and the classic trolley look of Scheme 3. Of the 378 responses, many responded “No Bus,” an effort by Save Newport’s Mike Glenn to disrupt the previously-approved program.

“If you think this is a waste of taxpayer dollars, type “NO BUS!” in the Other category and hit submit!” Mike Glenn wrote in the comments section of the city’s Facebook post to promote the survey. As of Wednesday, 131 of 378 votes were listed in the “Other” category.

The shuttle program is funded by Measure M funds, according to Wisneski, not taxpayer dollars. The city received a grant from the Orange County Transit Authority to test the service and see if it works for the peninsula.

“If it is not successful, we have the option to bail out,” Wisneski said.

The Balboa Peninsula Trolley will make its first run on June 17 and end service on Sept. 3, the Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

The BVAC meets again on April 19 at 4 p.m. at Marina Park.

For more information and to vote until March 17, visit newportbeachca.gov and newportbeachca.gov/Home/Components/News/News/30272/2720.

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