Huntington Beach launches free downtown shuttle program

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize waves as she takes a ride in Circuit Car.
Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize waves as she takes a ride in Circuit Car through Pier Plaza on Tuesday. Through December, the city is testing its free Circuit Car pilot program.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Those coming to downtown Huntington Beach now can worry a bit less about finding a way to get from Point A to Point B.

The city launched a free shuttle car pilot program Tuesday. It will run seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

The program utilizes five low-speed electric Circuit vehicles, which can each transport up to six visitors and residents at a time.

Circuit director of operations Daniel Kramer took turns shuttling Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize and other local political representatives around Pier Plaza on Tuesday morning as the service launched.

Kramer kept the speeds low, despite Delgleize’s joke that they were going to go do doughnuts in the parking lot off Pacific Coast Highway.

“This is a very special day for us here in Huntington Beach,” Delgleize said.

“I think many of us have thought about just how cool it would be to have something like this, and it’s really here. I just can’t believe it … We feel confident that this pilot program will help improve the quality of life within our city, from the micro-mobility to the environment, while adding another amenity to downtown Surf City to help it stand out as one of the favorite summer destinations.”

Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Delgleize, center, and Daniel Kramer with Circuit Cars, cut the ceremonial ribbon.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Visitors to downtown Huntington Beach can request a ride via the Ride Circuit app — a large QR code to initiate the download is located near the back of the vehicles — or simply hail them down like a taxi.

If requested through the app, a driver is expected to arrive within eight to 10 minutes.

The pilot program is set to run for five months, Huntington Beach Public Works Director Sean Crumby said. The downtown area serviced extends north and west to Goldenwest Street, then cuts over on Adams Avenue to its eastern boundary, Beach Boulevard.

“This is going to provide our residents and our local community easier access to our downtown,” Crumby said.

“Secondarily, it’s going to improve our parking and help our visitors … come to our downtown and have a one-park, multiple-destination sort of visit. I’m super-excited about launching this.”

Originally launched in New York in 2011, Circuit now serves California locales including Santa Monica, Venice, Marina del Rey and San Diego. In Newport Beach, it also operates the Free Ride Around Newport Center (FRANC) program.

The low-speed shuttles, which are Polaris GEM e6 vehicles, run on lithium batteries that can travel about 80 miles on each charge. Four will be standard shuttles, and one is an ADA-accessible shuttle.

The program’s net cost is estimated at about $145,000 over the five-month period.

It is set to be paid with Air Quality Management District funds, Crumby said in a presentation to the City Council on June 15.

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