SEASIDE — To help tourists get around Seaside on summer weekends, a streetcar is coming to town.

Offered by the Sunset Empire Transportation District, the 40-passenger streetcar made its initial appearance this past weekend and will run through September.

An open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Seaside Library to discuss the streetcar and other South County transportation options. The options include a bus that will travel between Seaside and Cannon Beach Monday through Friday in addition to a shuttle that will circulate through Cannon Beach seven days a week.

Another open house is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Astoria Transit Center.

District personnel will answer questions about the new summer routes, and maps will be available.

“We want to restore some goodwill to the city of Seaside after the loss of the transit center and the changes we made to Route 101,” said Jay Flint, director of the district.

A year ago, Seaside had been selected to receive a state grant to build a transit center that would improve bus connections for area employees. But before the district received the grant, the former director resigned, and the board learned that the district was near financial collapse. The district couldn’t provide the matching funds required for the grant, and the city lost the transit center.

In addition, the district had to eliminate some bus routes, including Route 20 between Gearhart and Cannon Beach, and cut back on the schedule for Route 101, which serves the route between Astoria and Cannon Beach.

“There was a lot of loss of faith in the transit district,” Flint said. “Whenever I go there I can sense the tension. They’re thinking ‘Oh, yeah, the transit district; what are they going to do now?’”

The weekend streetcar will operate from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through September. The cost is $1 per trip, or $5 for a day pass. Tickets can be bought from the bus drivers.

It will begin at the Seaside Cinema and make 13 stops before arriving back at the cinema. Among the stops are the Seaside Aquarium, Seaside Convention and Civic Center, Broadway and Holladay Drive, the Turnaround, the Cove/Tillamook trailhead, Circle Creek Campground, McDonald’s and the Leisure Time RV Campground.

“We not only want to restore ridership, we want to bring this wonderful streetcar to use in Seaside,” Flint said. “We thought it would resonate with the tourist crowd.”

The transit district will pay $55 an hour to operate the streetcar with funds given to the district from the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Although the streetcar is scheduled to make a round trip every hour, Flint warned that, with heavy summer traffic, delays could occur.

“This is not built for people to make appointments or to get to work,” he said. “It’s more of a joy ride for folks.”

On June 4, the Route 20 bus will begin providing hourly service between Seaside and Cannon Beach on Monday through Friday. Route 101 also will begin June 4 providing two-hour turnaround services between Astoria and Cannon Beach on Monday through Friday.

On June 7, Route 21, the Cannon Beach shuttle, will add Monday through Friday services to the existing weekend service throughout Cannon Beach.

The city of Cannon Beach has been paying $3,000 a month for a weekend shuttle that also travels to Seaside several times. The city will continue to pay for that weekend service as well as the Cannon Beach-only shuttle Monday through Friday during the summer.

Route 10, between Astoria and Warrenton, and Route 30, between Warrenton and Westport, will continue during the summer.

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