Long Beach Might Build An Aerial Tramway To Take You Across The Waterfront

The tram could connect tourist hotspots like the Queen Mary to the Long Beach waterfront. (Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist)

If you'd rather admire the Queen Mary from high above rather than fight for a parking spot, this might be for you.

Tuesday evening, the Long Beach City Council will discuss building an aerial tramway connecting downtown attractions to waterfront tourist stops.

City Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce is heading the tramway effort. She's asking the city to draft a feasibility study that would look at issues like project cost, tram pricing and stop locations.

She said an aerial tram proposal isn't new to Long Beach — local business owners have suggested it for years as a way to boost tourism.

"We know the idea has kind of been out there," she said, noting a basic feasibility study done by the Queen Mary two years ago. "Right now the first step is just pulling together resources... and really understanding every little detail about what it would really take if we were to follow this vision through."

The tramway would aim to cut down on traffic and attract more visitors to local businesses — with an eye on the 2028 Olympics (where Long Beach will host events).

Pearce said getting people out of their cars was also important not just for traffic, but also for the environment. "In Long Beach, sustainability and air quality is something we're trying to address — through everything from increased scooter activity to bike rides, to a tram," Pearce said.

Right now, the best option to get from the red and black smokestacks of the Queen Mary across the Queensway Bay is a free shuttle bus.

Ashley Glover is a Long Beach native who takes this shuttle often. But she said an aerial tram would be a fun alternative.

"That would be way better. That would be cool," she said, looking out the window as the shuttle bus crossed the Queensway Bridge.

Glover thought a tram would bring in even more tourists to the Queen Mary. "People would be out here like, 'Oh my God, look at that, look at that!" she said, pretending to point at things in the sky.

There are at least four potential tram stops under consideration: the Queen Mary and Hotel Maya, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Metro Rail Station at Pine Avenue and First Street.

On a recent day at the downtown waterfront area near the Aquarium, groups of schoolchildren walk from the crowded parking lots to the benches, where they pull out their lunches. Alicia Wyse and her family sit nearby waiting for the free shuttle bus back over the Queensway bridge. They're visiting from Phoenix, and say they'd take a tram if it could move them quickly and cheaply.

"We're just excited that we don't have to walk," Wyse said, laughing. "We've been at Disneyland all week."

Her husband, Matt Wyse, agreed. As long as they weren't "wasting too much money," a tramway could be a fun way to explore the area and also give back to the city.

"We've spent enough money to get here," Alicia Wyse added.

If approved, a feasibility study could be completed within 60 to 120 days — Councilwoman Pearce is hoping for 90 days — and then go back to the City Council for review. Construction on the tramway could start in the next two years or so.