Trolleys like this one will be used for a new service in downtown Santa Barbara. (Courtesy photo)
Trolleys like this one will be used for a new service in downtown Santa Barbara. (Courtesy photo)

The Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce is launching a downtown trolley program for the summer.

It will pick up and drop off visitors Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in downtown Santa Barbara.

“Downtown businesses expressed that visitors needed an easier way to get around downtown Santa Barbara since the electric trolleys were no longer operating,” said Mary Lynn Harms-Romo, director of communications for SBSC Chamber. “The Chamber saw this as an economic development initiative to help support businesses.”

The visitor trolley runs Friday-Monday starting at 11 a.m. with the first pick up at Hotel Californian. Departures will happen every 30 minutes until 4:30 p.m.

After departing Hotel Californian at 11 a.m., the trolley will stop at Paseo Nuevo on Chapala Street, between Ortega and Canon Perdido Streets. The next stop will be on Anacapa Street, right outside the courthouse. The trolley will then head towards the 600 block of Anacapa Street, between Ortega and Cota Streets. The final stop is right back at Hotel Californian, making a loop around State Street. A map of the route can be seen here.

Tickets for the visitor trolley are available for $1 per ride at the State Street Visitor Center, or purchased with cash on the trolley itself. Children can ride for free with their families, Harms-Romo said.

The trolley pilot program comes after the Chamber held a special meeting with downtown businesses to discuss goals for the future of State Street. Many businesses expressed the need for a shuttle to help visitors navigate between the waterfront, the Funk Zone, hotels and other downtown areas, Harms-Romo said.

The Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District previously operated shuttles that went up and down State Street from Micheltorena Street to Stearns Wharf, but stopped when most of that route was closed to vehicles during the pandemic.

The Chamber partnered with Wheel Fun and within a month were able to launch the visitor trolley, Harms-Romo said.  

The trolley can accommodate wheelchairs and drivers will be able to assist with other accessibility needs, she added. 

Funding for the visitor trolley program comes from the Chamber, Downtown Santa Barbara, and Visit Santa Barbara. The city also preliminarily agreed to match the funds of the three partners through grants, according to Harms-Romo.

The trolleys are set to run until Labor Day weekend but could be extended.

“If successful and if funding is available, we will continue taking into consideration any expansions of the route or schedule,” Harms-Romo told Noozhawk.