Vehicles pass the welcoming sign to Belmont Shore on Second Street in Long Beach. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

Tourists and residents alike will soon have an easier way to navigate some of Long Beach’s busiest areas.

A micro-transit shuttle pilot program is on track to kick off this summer in the Belmont Shore/Alamitos Bay and Downtown/Alamitos Beach neighborhoods.

The program will provide two separate services: a fixed route and another that is essentially on-demand. The number of stops and their locations have yet to be determined, but those decisions will be made with input from the public and the local business associations.

The program aims to reduce the number of car trips that are under 3 miles long. For those that still need to drive, the program will help connect less used parking lots to areas with more activity.

Another goal of the program is to assist businesses in the area recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by alleviating traffic congestion in the area, which will make the neighborhoods easier to navigate and, ideally, drive more foot traffic to those businesses.

The city is still working to choose a vendor to operate the program.

A similar program, run in Downtown, served as the project’s inspiration, Department of Public Works spokesperson Joy Contreras said.

“Since the original micro-transit pilot that operated throughout Downtown Long Beach in 2018, we have been considering trying out another pilot program,” she said in an email.

With funds from the Long Beach Recovery Act coming into the city, officials decided to take some of the $1.6 million dedicated to mobility in the act to fund this new project.

“This pilot has become a part of a larger initiative set forth by Recovery Act funding to help with the city’s economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19,” Contreras said.

While the current scope of the pilot is limited to the Belmont Shore/Alamitos Bay and Downtown/Alamitos Beach neighborhoods, Contreras said the program could be expanded in the future to other parts of the city.

Christian May-Suzuki

Christian May-Suzuki is a reporter at the Long Beach Business Journal.