Domenic Priore is getting a bit flustered. The local historian is tasked with telling the tales of many long-gone iconic buildings along the route of his specialty subject, the Sunset Strip. Trying to keep pace with the Sunset Trip trolley car he’s been brought on board to promote, Priore quickly spits out interesting facts to the riders about the landmark locale, which still captures the public’s imagination. Unfortunately, there’s so much history here that he can’t possibly maintain his pace and remain intelligible. By the time the lumbering faux trolley pulls up to a parking lot sitting next to the spot that held the old Spago’s, Priore has given up, content to play the supporting role to photographer Robert Landau, who touts the outdoor exhibit of his photographs of iconic rock billboards that used to dominate this street in the '70s and '80s.
Celebrating the Sunset Strip like this is nothing new, and neither is the dense traffic that snarls commuters and partygoers in its slow crawl. This traffic, combined with the lack of affordable parking, has long been a thorn in the side of the city of West Hollywood and its businesses, particularly on weekends when people come out to play. We’ve all been there at least once — the point where too many vehicles and shrinking patience reaches critical mass. While ride services help, they’re just too small to make much of a difference and they get expensive during peak hours. The city has realized this and now is stepping up to the plate with a plan to provide free transportation along the Strip on Fridays and Saturdays, in the form of their new Sunset Trip trolley service that kicks off Saturday, June 2.
Yes, you read that right. Free transportation along the Strip. To anyone. Let that roll around in your head for a minute. Free. Nice feeling, isn’t it? Sunset Trip plans to run from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., covering the prime Strip territory on Sunset between Doheny and Fairfax. The service will have 26 stops along its route, which include loops on each end for the trolleys’ turnaround. Almost all of these stops are adjacent to notable businesses, restaurants or clubs, and the city claims that the trolleys will run every 15 minutes. Given the density of Sunset traffic on the weekends, this may seem on the surface to be a very lofty goal, but it’s admirable that the city is setting such a high bar. If nothing else, this should prove to be convenient for those wanting to visit several venues in an evening without having to find parking (or hit up Uber) again and again.
The trolleys themselves are rather nice on the inside, very clearly renovated recently with a blond plywood finish, which, when combined with the brass poles and wooden benches, gives the vehicle a homier look than regular generic buses. Window space is generous, so the view is good. These aren’t the fastest wagons in the world, but then again, you’re not going very far when using them, so that’s not really an issue. Riders will probably be distracted by the Strip-themed music that will be playing from the speakers, tunes that either originated on the Strip or were inspired by it.
Sunset Trip follows in the tire tracks of the Pickup, a similar trolley service run in WeHo, traveling along Santa Monica Boulevard between Robertson and La Brea, also on the weekends. In fact, riders of Sunset Trip and the Pickup will be able to connect services at two stops: at Fairfax & Santa Monica, and San Vicente & Santa Monica. This provides partygoers with the previously unavailable chance to travel about prime parts of West Hollywood for free. (There’s that wonderful word again!)
The city of West Hollywood will be hosting a launch celebration for Sunset Trip at 1OAK, 9039 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, on Sat., June 2, 6-8 p.m. The party is free (!) and open to the public.
Sunset Trip route map and schedule at wehosunsettrip.com.