VIDEO: WeHo “Pick up Trolley” is more than a way to get home safely

BY ROBERT WILLIAMS  |  If you live in West Hollywood and continue to drive to the bars, you have missed the boat- well, in this case the trolley.
The PickUp trolley is a popular free service running along Santa Monica Boulevard, between La Peer Drive and La Brea Avenue, Friday and Saturday nights from 8pm to 3am.  Three trolleys service the area and conveniently allow riders to jump on or off at one of the many stops along the route while listening to music selected by local DJ Derek Monteiro. The energetic and playful service is so useful you will let bygones be bygones and finally forgive the city for the stack of parking tickets on your kitchen counter (P.S. the city wants me to remind you to pay your parking tickets).

Beyond its convenience and cool factor, the trolley serves as an example of an engaged city government effectively responding to a need within the community by providing a safe, fun, and affordable transportation option to one of the city’s busiest nightlife districts.
Local club promoter and Weho Confidential blogger Lucas John Junkin originated the idea five years ago by starting a petition on asking the city to create a trolley.
“I live on Crescent Heights and Santa Monica and one Saturday was going out to the gay bars,” Junkin said.  “I was happy to pay for parking but this particular night all of the structures were full and I had to return home and take a taxi.  It was very frustrating and I began to ask why a really cool city like West Hollywood doesn’t have a public transit option.”
After garnering a relatively few 140 signatures to the petition, the city council responded with approval and service began in August 2013.  The PickUp now has over 65,000 boardings per year.

Councilmember John J. Duran, who sponsored the legislation that created the service, works as a criminal defense attorney by day and frequently represents clients who get arrested for drunk driving.  He recognized the need to help people get around safely but didn’t believe traditional public transportation would be used by the people who party along Santa Monica Boulevard.

“It needs to be sexy, it needs to smart, it needs to be hip,”  Duran remembers saying.  He wanted something LGBT people and their straight allies would look at and say, “That’s for me.”  Therefore, it was important for the trolley to have sexy interior lighting, great music, and an exterior painted in a vibrant and brilliant fashion.
Duran said it was also important for the service to be free to motivate people to leave their cars at home. The city subsidizes the transit and benefits by having less drunk driving and fatalities, less illegal parking, and less traffic.
Riders can track when the trolley will be near their location using the Trolley Tracker feature on the PickUp’s website and receive perks for using the service like free priority entry to the Abbey and Micky’s, $1 first drink at Fubar, and a free appetizer with purchase of entree at Hugo’s, among others.
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