HUNTINGTON BEACH : City Tours Will Get Rolling Next Year

The city is going into the tour business.

The City Council this week unanimously voted to take the city-owned shuttle tram out of mothballs and put it to use as a guided-tour vehicle. City Community Services Department Director Ron Hagan said the tram tour is to be launched by April.

"I think it'll be very educational and informative," Hagan said. "We'll be telling people on the tour about the history of the oil industry in the city, about the history of the pier and about the wetlands."

The vehicle will be an open-air tram the city bought three years ago with a transportation grant to help reduce downtown-area traffic congestion. The vehicle transported people from Pacific Coast Highway parking lots to downtown locations such as the pier.

With the budget crunch this year, the city mothballed the tram. Hagan said the city also found that the tram had failed to eliminate traffic congestion because visitors still insisted on parking close to the pier.

City officials, however, decided to revive the tram after determining that it would be self-supporting, Hagan said.

He said that for a fee--$3 for adults, $1 for children--the tram will take visitors on a one-hour tour of the downtown area, then down to the beach, up to the city's bluff areas and then to the Bolsa Chica Wetlands. Community Services Department staffers will serve as tour guides.

"We'll run the tours all next summer, and then decide if there's demand enough to continue them into the winter months," Hagan said.

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