There's a new party bus in West Hollywood, only there's no booze involved. Or stripper poles. Or, for that matter, strippers. Even so, the PickUp is a spirited nightlife shuttle service that debuted Friday for a soft opening, with an official grand opening slated for this upcoming weekend.
Locals can't miss this 21st-century "trolley": it's a bold, graphic-covered bus-sized vehicle with old-fashioned, American trolley interiors. The City of West Hollywood introduced this relatively limited operation—it runs along Santa Monica Boulevard between Fairfax and Robertson—to foster a safe commute for nightlife revelers and offer a semi-permanent solution to the notorious weekend traffic. "We wanted to have something that was fun but also provided a public service for late-night partiers," says City of West Hollywood council member Jeffrey Prang. "There's an indigenous population we'd rather have in our trolley than a car if they're drinking."
Here's the idea. Say you have dinner and drinks at Laurel Hardware, jet over to the Abbey for a cocktail (or two), then meet friends back east at the Hudson for a nightcap. Rather than confronting traffic, driving inebriated and/or accumulating parking fees (if you can, in fact, find a parking spot), you can park once and sail a happy mess the rest of the night with the trolley. Best of all, The PickUp is free and runs from 8 p.m. to a late 3 a.m., so riders can board on and off any time they want in the time frame. For now, it's only available Friday and Saturday nights.
The nighttime shuttle concept isn't new to Los Angeles. Some West Hollywood denizens may vaguely remember a similar shuttle service some time in the mid-nineties, which, according to Prang, was discontinued due to sparse ridership and weak promotion (locals thought it was a ride share for the disabled). The City of Hollywood launched the "Holly Trolley" in 2006, which saw a one-year life span. Orange trolleys shuttled clubgoers among parking lots, nightspots and Metro stations and cost users a buck.
The PickUp seems more promising. The route comprises 20 stops along Santa Monica (10 west-bound and 10 east-bound) with pick-ups at each station every fifteen minutes, similar to a regular bus schedule. Inside the trolley, there's a photo booth where users can upload real-time photos to Facebook and Twitter and, last Friday, the trolley played a club-like soundtrack mix from local DJ Derek Monteiro.
Josh Morgerman, co-founder of Symblaze, an international branding agency that conceptualized The PickUp image, says: "This is an experience that won't kill your buzz, with a more lively atmosphere than an MTA bus."
Depending on the trolley's success, The PickUp service may extend further east for a more expansive route, with the likely addition of more trolleys (there are only two for the pilot period).
For more information including the trolley stops, visit the site at WeHo.Org/WeHoPickUp.