The trolley buses are great, but nobody rides them. Plus the map/schedule is confusing to me.

2015-07-04 16.26.04The best deal in Long Beach: The Trolley Bus. Use your beach pass to catch a free ride around town. You folks in the east want to go west? Take the trolley and avoid parking. You folks in the west want a parking spot? Park your car in the east and take the trolley back west. It’s that simple.

Flag down the trolley and hop on; the driver is friendly, the ride is safe, smooth and comfortable. Problem is: Not too many people seem to be using this amazing form of transportation. I think there are two issues: 1) the map/schedule is confusing 2) lack of proper and attractive signage around town showing people when/how/where to use it.

Bus, Bike, Trolley, Shopper's special
Bus, Bike, Trolley, Shopper’s special

The Map/schedule. Granted, I’m not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but I do know to follow instructions. It took me forever to figure out the map routes. Some might get WEST LOOP/EAST LOOP bus routes confused with WESTBOUND/EASTBOUND trolley bus times. Then there is the Shopper’s special trolley bus that goes EAST&WEST. Also, perhaps I’m slightly colorblind, but it looks like the Shopper’s Special West actually goes on the boardwalk. Also, aren’t those Shopper’s Specials trolley buses the same buses as the trolley buses?  Should the Shopper’s special East/West be combined with the Trolley Eastbound/Westbound? And how can we make it clear to differentiate the West Loop/East Loop buses from the Eastbound/Westbound Trolley buses and the Shopper’s Special East/Shopper’s special West trolley buses, which may or may not be the same trolley buses being used for the Trolley East Bound/West Bound?

I know…. THIS ALL LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A DR. SEUSS BOOK! What we have are similar forms of transportation going similar directions on similar routes: “Green trolley, red trolleys, blue bus blue. One for me and one for you.” Can you imagine if you stepped off the train with no knowledge of Long Beach trying to figure this out? “How do you fix it? We don’t know. Go ask your pop. He might know!”

Ok, so now let’s talk about signs. There is a map and schedule taped to a utility pole on National Blvd. Is that enough? I am assuming you can find the same attractive postings at the LIRR, Maple and Nevada, right? I heard actual signs are coming, so I’m hoping they are just backordered or something. Not sitting in some city garage collecting dust with the bike signs for park avenue we were promised….

I really didn’t mean to write a post bashing the trolleys. I swear, I love these silly buses.  So instead of the naysayers who hate everything, I would love to hear from the people who actually road the trolley. What was your experience like with figuring out the map and schedule? Would you do anything differently? What do you think the city needs to do to get more people to use this FREE WITH BEACH PASS form of transportation? 

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35 thoughts on “The trolley buses are great, but nobody rides them. Plus the map/schedule is confusing to me.”

  1. Anthony, it’s not you. The map is hideously unprofessional.

    They give a judge’s kid a $108K job and that qualifies him to draw a map. It’s a waste of money and confusing to riders. Does the schedule refer to the trolley? The bus? Both? Who knows?

    A flyer and poster campaign exclusive to the trolley would be the way to go. Simply list the rules/fares/schedule. Red/Green/Blue is absurd.

    An inclusive guide like the one illustrated has its place if the flaws were worked out of it and if it were professionally prepared. But it’s way too much information for someone, especially an out-of-towner only looking to ride the trolley.

  2. I know it’s not what you asked for, but I haven’t ridden the trolley, but it’s because I have no idea how it works, how long it will take to wait for one, etc.

  3. I tried to rent one out for my wedding. Wanted it to shuttle guest from the Allegria to Bridgeview Yacht Club but per city hall officials “it can’t cross the bridge”.

  4. Not you. It’s a hot mess. My favorite version still available on City’s website where I’m bound. 50 Shades of a Trolley.

    It’s fun though the time I took it.

  5. We live in west end and would like to take open trolley. We are not willing to wait one hour or more for it. We ride our bikes to library, CVS, Waldbaum’s. Boardwalk is fine. I do appreciate the city giving us a chance to use trolley though. I think it is a good idea. And no we are not section 8 or on welfare. The map isn’t very good.

  6. I’ll be specific with my criticism. The map shows the problems encountered in this day of digital design, lots of images and cheap color printing. In the hands of an amateur, you get a mess.

    Here are the problems:

    The map appears to show only the trolley schedule times, yet it displays all the bus (and bike) routes, whatever they are, on the map. That singular schedule is captioned “Trolley Route”.

    The colored lines, of which there are seven different colors, overlap, cross and confuse. They are difficult to differentiate. Like the high schooler seeking to impress, the result is to “clutter and confuse.”

    Some route lines are incomplete, like that showing the Shoppers’ Special.

    Clutter? The only thing missing is my horoscope.

    The designer of the 1970’s subway map lives in Long Beach, as does the guy who designed the LIRR schedules for 40 years.

    But the City payed Gordon to do this.

  7. I was told by the City Manager earlier this year that his prodigy students at NYU Wagner were designing the schedules & map. When I pestered the City Council about it they repeated that they were being worked on, getting the same information about the Capstone Program which is what they were told.

    I’ve come across some dopey NYU students (not you, Anthony) but there ain’t no way anyone from that program created that.

  8. At every ramp to enter the beach there should be a sign with every time the trolley stops there. This way people can use the trolley to get lunch at one of the towns finest restaurants. But, with a trolley passing by only every hour it would suck if lunch took an hour and 5 minutes. I am thinking less and more frequent stops. Signs around town saying headed back to the beach? the trolley stops at 8:00 8:30 etc…

    If they see they have 25 minutes, maybe they will go shopping, get some ice cream, an italian ice etc…

    Perhaps at these trolley stops by the beach there could be a menu board for all of the restaurants… maybe even a bench? Maybe the chamber of commerce could figure something out?

  9. Pretend the map was easy to understand and you knew when the bus was coming – I think what we’re seeing is how hard it is to be “everything to everyone.”

    Is it a trolley to get people from the Riverside to the train to the west end (and the restaurants in between) or is it for residents (able bodied and otherwise) to get around town?

    If it’s for beach-goers to get to the train and restaurants it needs 5-6 stops, and only one or two on Broadway.

    If you want to be a one size fits all trolley, this is what you get.

  10. from what I understand, one goes east and one goes west .You should be able to catch one of them every fifteen minutes, maybe? I waited for about 20 minutes and only saw on going east, on the south side of park

  11. From what I understand, it really only ‘stops’ at the LIRR station. That’s so it gets back on schedule. It doesn’t necessarily stop along the way. You just flag it down when you need it. That was all painless. The driver saw us in the distance and immediately put his turn signal on. alerting us that he was going to stop.

  12. @Anthony – A hypothetical 15 minutes is too long. Am I too impatient? Maybe. But then how long am I going to be on the trolley for to reach my destination? Did I go out to get lunch that day or to experience trolley life?

    Most trolleys I’ve seen in LB have said “out of service;” were they planned out of service or did they become that on their way to a bunch of people waiting for it?

    I’ll just walk.

  13. I know the NYU kids did not do this and I was lied to (as were the Council members) by the City Manager regarding the schedules and maps. Gordon does not do graphic design and the reason why I know this is the headlines would be in Back to the Future font plus it would be better organized.

  14. You make a great point. The other day I used the trolley to go roughly 7 blocks west. I didn’t feel like waiting or figuring out when the east bound was coming, so I just walked home. It was more so out of novelty on Saturday, but I think it could be properly used for those who are traveling to and from the West End, due to the parking issues there. And also a way for LIRR folks to get to the West End and back.

  15. “THIS ALL LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF A DR. SEUSS BOOK! What we have are similar forms of transportation going similar directions on similar routes: “Green trolley, red trolleys, blue bus blue. One for me and one for you.” Can you imagine if you stepped off the train with no knowledge of Long Beach trying to figure this out? “How do you fix it? We don’t know. Go ask your pop. He might know!”

    LOL – Totally Anthony. This is how my brain feels when I look at the map! I love the trolley truly, but navigating the schedule is a nightmare.

  16. I’m with McMannis. His suggestion is the best, but you can forget about the Chamber doing anything unless there’s a $50 bill attached to it. And yes, Anthony. I have been “warned” by their goon in the past.

  17. i rode it one day after a few tries of figuring out where to catch it. i dont like that the open air trolley is every other. i carved out the time with my son to ride that one, not the other one. we got lucky i guess.

    careful of the huge gaps right to the asphalt from the trolley floor. toddlers can easily fall off.

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