Kerry Ferguson
City Councilwoman Kerry Ferguson

By City Councilwoman Kerry Ferguson

San Juan is set to blossom like never before with the soon-to-come Mission Inn San Juan Capistrano across from our internationally renowned Mission San Juan Capistrano, a proposed Kimpton Hotel near Heritage Park, and more.

New businesses are already cropping up downtown, such as the recently opened Rags & Stones across from the Mission. More and more, people are discovering what those of us who live here know already—San Juan has the finest array of restaurants and wine bars anywhere, many within a two-block radius.

Our new free trolley system is making new friends every day that it runs. Already, ridership is meeting or exceeding our goals each weekend, and people who ride have nice things to say about it.

Tiffani from North Carolina wrote: “Our entire family enjoyed the ride and (we) are hoping to hop on again this weekend. We are looking forward to touring the Mission and learning more about the history of San Juan Capistrano…thank you for your kindness and conversation…it made our visit here even more memorable.”

Riding along last Friday evening, we saw pickups of whole families, as well as a mother with half a dozen girls in tow, at the Residence Inn, at the Train Depot, the Park ‘n Ride and at the cluster of senior apartments on Rancho Viejo Road. All came into town to the stop at the Mission and to enjoy restaurants, the theater and shops.

With the new trolley tracker, you can check the location of the trolley every 30 seconds on your smartphone or tablet and plan accordingly. We never had to wait more than five to 10 minutes for it to come to our chosen stop.

The trolley takes a proactive approach to bring residents back to our historic downtown for dinner and shopping, while also alleviating parking challenges, easing traffic congestion and improving air quality. This is a way residents can support the fine restaurants and shops in San Juan Capistrano and have fun at the same time by bringing the kids, making a fun senior outing or enjoying a couples’ romantic night out.

The trolley is primarily funded by grants from the Air Quality Management District, with only $3,680 coming from San Juan Capistrano’s general fund. The Mission San Juan Capistrano and the Heritage Tourism Association provided all the marketing and graphics for the program.

Next year, we hope to extend it to outlying neighborhoods for pickups and drop-offs, as well as connections to Dana Point and San Clemente by applying for grant funding from the Orange County Transportation Authority. The trolley has the potential to stave off large investments in infrastructure that cut swaths through our cities and fail to make things better on the highways. If we can make it more fun to make trips north and south on the train, there will be fewer cars on the freeways.

Now’s the time to get on board—every Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can also take the trolley to the next San Juan Summer Nights Concert from City Hall or the Park ‘n Ride. Use the trolley tracker at www.missionsjc.com and enjoy the ride!

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