This article originally appeared in Laguna Beach Magazine Funding for the trolley is provided by OC Go, Orange County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements.
There’s no shortage of safe, clean and easy-to-use public transportation services in Laguna Beach. From buses operated by the Orange County Transportation Authority to escorted senior transportation by a local nonprofit and even free city-run trolleys and an on-demand rideshare program make it easy to explore the town.
According to Michael Litschi, director of the city’s Transit and Community Services, Laguna’s transit service had a combined total of nearly 675,000 boardings on its trolley and on-demand services last year.
“The city prides itself on providing clean, convenient and environmentally friendly transportation options to both residents and visitors,” Litschi says.
Travelers and locals have direct access to all of the city’s beaches, the summer art festivals, attractions like Laguna Playhouse and myriad restaurants, hotels and shops—for free—without searching for a parking spot in the often-crowded downtown area.
“The city’s trolley and on-demand services make it much easier for residents and visitors to get around town in a convenient, stress-free manner while also helping to reduce traffic congestion and eliminating the need to hunt for limited parking spaces,” Litschi says.
Traveling by Trolley
Laguna Beach’s iconic blue-and-gold trolleys operate for free, year-round, with varying seasonal routes. They’re powered by alternative fuel (propane) and operate with windows down when the weather allows—so riders can feel the breeze while riding down the coast.
Litschi says the Coastal Route, which travels along Coast Highway from north Laguna down to The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, is a favorite amongst visitors and locals due to its scenic ocean views. This Long Coastal Route operates year-round with increased service on Friday nights, Saturdays and Sundays while the Short Coastal Route, which only goes as far south as Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, operates only during summer and nonsummer weekends.
The Canyon Route takes riders from the Lot 16/Act V parking lot in the canyon to downtown—and stops near the art festivals when they’re running. This route operates on weekends during most of the year and daily during the summer. Special trolley service is also added for the annual Sawdust Winter Fantasy, which will be Fridays through Sundays from Nov. 17 to Dec. 17 this year.
Hours of service change depending on whether it’s summer or the rest of the year, with more frequent trolley service on weekends year-round, operating later at night every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Based on the route, trolleys arrive at each stop approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. Simply scan the QR codes on signs at each trolley stop or download the free Laguna Beach Trolley app to access information on schedules or track the trolley routes.
The trolley also helps with student transportation, offering after-school service from Thurston Middle School to the downtown bus depot including a few stops along the way. And the weekday Coastal Route deviates from its course to stop at Laguna Beach High School during arrival and dismissal times.
No matter your age or whether you’re a visitor or local, there are plenty of transportation options to get around Laguna—and beyond, as the bus depot on Broadway Street allows riders to connect with OCTA buses that continue on to other cities and popular OC attractions.