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Arts and Entertainment

Photos: West Hollywood's Free Party Bus, The PickUp, Debuts

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Tired of paying to park in West Hollywood? Worried about drinking and driving? Fear no more, WeHo party people, The PickUp is here! The free bus (technically, a trolley) will do a four-mile loop down Santa Monica Boulevard Friday and Saturday nights until 3 a.m., with two trolleys running every 15 minutes.

The bright yellow trolley, painted with Roy Lichtenstein-inspired pop art, made its inaugural run Friday, August 9, in a "soft launch" with City Councilmembers John Heilman, John Duran, Abbe Land and John D'Amico on board, as well as reporters from People, Buzzfeed, Mar Yvette from Fox 11 and, of course, LAist.

To prove this isn't your grandma's boring old CityLine, The PickUp features loud club music from DJ Derek Monteiro and a photo booth where you can instantly upload your pix to social media. As if the message painted on its backside ("Get on & get off") isn't clear enough, Tristan Schukraft, a former Council candidate who's been a strong supporter of the project, said the party doesn't only start when you get on the bus, it's also "your last-ditch attempt to meet someone before you go home." Hookups on The PickUp. Inevitable.

Unlike the CityLine, whose stops include Cedars-Sinai, this is "geared towards nightlife people. I think this is a great idea," Shukraft explains. "So many people live within a block of Santa Monica Boulevard and they get in a car, [drive a few blocks] and pay $20 to park. The whole idea is that you hop on and leave your car at home."

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It does come with a few perks (no, probably not free condoms, although we wouldn't be surprised): VIP entry to The Abbey, no cover and priority admission to Micky's, one $1.00 drink at Fubar's and half off your first drink at Here Lounge. New perks will be announced weekly, according to the city's press release.

The official debut is August 16, with a launch event in front of Micky's, Revolver and Eleven starting at 6 p.m.

The PickUp is here for six months at least; this is a pilot project, with the potential to continue with a corporate sponsor. The $71,000 for the project came out of the city's general fund. It will cost $110 an hour to operate it, but the city is eating that for now to keep the ride free.

Councilman Heilman had been opposed to the project, as he said at the unveiling on Friday, "I had concerns because we had had a shuttle program before and it wasn't entirely successful. I went along with doing this as a pilot project. After six months, we'll reevaluate it. I think the buses turned out really great. They look fun and inviting and I hope we'll have the ridership."

Councilman D'Amico, who spearheaded the project with fellow Councilman Duran, is much more optimistic, imagining that the free shuttle craze will sweep neighboring cities, saying, "I can imagine our friends in Los Angeles, maybe in Venice and East Hollywood or Echo Park," following in WeHo's footsteps.

He added, "I say, park on the Eastside [of WeHo], party on the Westside. There's plenty of free parking on the Eastside after 8 p.m.," he pointed out. He was the lone councilmember to oppose extending parking meter hours on the Westside of WeHo, where all the clubs are.

For more information, call (323) 848-6402 or visit the Facebook page.

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