By Eric Heinz
San Clemente’s Mobility Task Force is looking to ride alongside its neighboring cities.
During a meeting on Monday, the task force and participants discussed the possibility of tapping into Orange County Transit Authority grant funds for implementing a trolley system in San Clemente.
Councilwoman Lori Donchak, who is the Orange County Transit Authority Board of Directors District 5 representative and a liaison to City Council for the task force, said the trolley would have to prioritize the transportation of San Clementeans, but it would also be used to assist transit for visitors.
OCTA already runs a system through San Clemente, and task force members said they can’t thoroughly examine possibilities of trolley implementation until the current OCTA system is analyzed. San Clemente’s routes for OCTA can be found at www.octa.net/Bus-Transit/Routes-and-Schedules/Overview/.
Parking, the ubiquitous facet of any beachside project, for people to stop and ride was a catch-22 with task force members. The transit would either serve as a first and last stop for the incoming outlet mall to give it as much visibility as possible for visitors, or force the city to rework its plans in existing lots such as the SCHS parking lot as well as other places for weekends.
Susan Jennrich, general manager of the Outlets at San Clemente, which are expected to open mid-October, said the possibility of having the parking garage to facilitate park-and-ride operations for the trolley at the new mall would have to be examined.
The plans come with a contingency: the OCTA could pull funding if the city can’t prove at least 10 people per hour use the services. That’s where the marketability of the city’s crown jewels comes into play. As the transit is planned to run Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and maybe Thursdays, committee members discussed examining the feasibility of attendance, with stops at popular attractions.
The task force said it would enhance public transportation on weekends to connect residents to the rest of the city, such as reaching out to North Beach, Trestles and Talega.
Task force attendants maintained residents of San Clemente, and Southern California, must have a vehicle or some kind of transportation.
Wait time would dictate services, as well. Studies have shown, members said, that people are willing to wait up to 20 minutes for their ride, and the goal of the system is to reduce that to 10- to 15-minute waits.
Whether trolleys will be available for the possible request is another aspect, as OCTA has allocated limited funds for the grant. About $573,000 would be requested from the city for the program, if council approves the expenditures.
Much of the decisions made with the city’s trolley plan would follow the guidelines of the general plan the city recently published.
The number of trolleys in the fleet and rates for utilizing the services will not be ascertained until a better understanding of the project comes to fruition.
The trolley grants are funded through Measure M, and more information can be found at www.blog.octa.net/funded-by-measure-m-programs-for-popular-trolleys-start-rolling.