As the City of San Clemente looks to expand public transportation options in town, the City Council on Tuesday night, Jan. 17, is expected to consider testing one of two potential trolley lines this spring—one connected to the Outlets at San Clemente, or another at the Municipal Pier.
Within the roughly $94,000 that the council appropriated for early 2023 weekend trolley services last month, $34,000 was designated to run a weekend pilot route for up to 12 weeks through Memorial Day weekend in late May.
City staff recommends connecting the new free route, or the “Green Line,” to the existing Red Line, which travels on a loop between the Outlets and the Pier—the two busiest stops.
The proposed Green Line would either begin at the Outlets and travel inland with accessibility to numerous neighborhoods, or start at the Pier Bowl and work in a loop down to San Clemente State Beach and back.
Stops along the inland route include the Marblehead Inland Park, Vista Hermosa Sports Park, Plaza Pacifica, and Rancho San Clemente Park.
“These stops were selected because of their proximity to shopping, parking, recreation, and accessibility to inland neighborhoods, including Marblehead, Forster Ranch, Talega, and Rancho San Clemente,” the city’s agenda report stated.
To keep passenger wait times consistent with the 15-20 minute waits at Red Line stops, staff is recommending limiting the driving time for the whole route to around 25 minutes.
The inland option takes 26 minutes to drive, and would go faster on weekends when avoiding stops at the business parks or near San Clemente High School. For the route going south, the drive time was estimated at 23 minutes with more stops than the inland route.
Such stops include the Dorothy Visser Senior Center, T-Street Beach access, San Clemente State Beach, the Pier Bowl, and spots along El Camino Real near Ralph’s, Surfbreak Hotel and Calafia Inn.
With the city’s trolley operations scheduled to return to its regular summertime schedule starting Memorial Day weekend—as required under a Measure V agreement between the city and the Orange County Transportation Authority—city staff is recommending that the pilot route kick off March 11 and conclude a week before the holiday on May 21.
Following the council’s vote at its Dec. 20 meeting, the city’s free Red Line trolley is available to ride on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and 10 a.m.-8 p.m., respectively. It will also operate on President’s Day, Feb. 20.
The council will convene Tuesday’s meeting at 5 p.m. by first going into closed session. At around 6 p.m., the council will meet for the public session in the Council Chambers, located on the second floor of City Hall at 910 Calle Negocio.