• Last year, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point launched free summer trolleys funded by OCTA grants.
• Dana Point's trolley connects with Laguna Beach's longstanding free trolley.
• San Juan Capistrano is seeking an OCTA grant for a new route this summer that would connect to Dana Point's trolley and, thereby, to Laguna's.
• San Clemente council members, who agreed Tuesday to seek OCTA funds for a core trolley route in San Clemente, did not give any indication if or when they might support extending it north to connect with Dana Point's.
• Such a connection would bring visitors into San Clemente and let San Clemente residents ride free to Dana Point, San Juan and Laguna Beach.
City Councilwoman Lori Donchak, who serves on the OCTA board, said 18 cities are competing for trolley grants as OCTA is rearranging bus routes to boost ridership and is planning service cuts in some low-ridership areas. A proposal to eliminate resident-serving San Clemente Routes 191 and 193 will be up for an OCTA board vote Monday at 9 a.m. at OCTA headquarters in Orange.
Brenda Miller, a San Clemente mobility advocate, told the council it doesn’t matter what mix of riders boards the trolleys. “This kind of trolley, I think, benefits residents even if residents don’t use it,” Miller said. She said the last thing residents want is for all the people using San Clemente’s outlet mall to get in their cars and drive to North Beach, downtown or the pier.
“They’re going to want to come to the ocean,” Miller said. “With a trolley like this, they don’t have to get in their car, clog up our parking lots, clog up our roadways, and the people who arrive by Metrolink have an opportunity to take a trolley and see the rest of San Clemente instead of being trapped there at the pier or in North Beach.”
Hamm said the Outlets, which opened in November, is “taking a dive,” not meeting projections, and the trolley should serve residents, not focus on business destinations. He suggested a route inland to Talega and Forster Ranch. City Councilwoman Kathy Ward wanted a route to the south end of town via El Camino Real so residents there can access the trolley.