After 11 summers of service, the “cable car on wheels” in Laguna Beach has worn out and county officials have decided that revenues and ridership were too low to justify the $135,000 replacement cost.
“We didn’t think the expenditure seemed warranted,” said Tom Fortune, a spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Commission.
Officials plan to replace the distinctive blue trolley with a $60,000 open-air tram. The request for funds to replace the trolley, which had extensive rust and corrosion damage to the body, was denied Monday during a regular commission meeting.
The “village trolley” and three trams were used to shuttle summer visitors from Laguna Canyon to festivals and activities throughout the city, said Terry Brandt, director of municipal services for the city. The system runs along Coast Highway, Laguna Canyon Road and other major streets to handle additional summer traffic, Brandt said.
“It’s a vehicle that people like to ride, so we wanted to replace it,” Brandt said.
Repair costs were estimated at $11,000 to $55,600 and were not considered feasible, city officials said. The trolley has been out of service since last August, Brandt said.
Brandt said the department would submit a new proposal for the cost of an additional tram Tuesday. The new request is expected to be on the commission’s agenda on April 10, he said. Brandt expects the request to be approved and said the city should have a new tram to use this summer.
Though they said passengers enjoyed the 50-cent trolley rides, sentiment didn’t run deep among city officials.
“It was just another bus to us,” said Loyola Lucero, who supervised the summer transportation system last year. It had no special missions and was used just like the trams, she said.
But she remembered that some people would let trams pass just to slide into the wooden seats of the blue trolley. “To (passengers) it was something fun to do,” said Lucero, who has driven the bus herself on occasion.
During the winter months the trolley was used for weddings and parades, Lucero said.
Patsy Weaver of Laguna Beach, who chartered the trolley for her son’s wedding, said it would be “a shame” to lose it.
“It’s just very noticeable,” she said of the trolley’s appearance. She fondly recalled riding the trolley to get around town.
“We use it all the time in the summer, because you can’t get around without it.”