For the first time since its debut in 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is being held outside of Washington, D.C. The West Coast venue, where visitors can tour solar-powered competition houses designed and built by collegiate teams from across the U.S. and around the world, is being held at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. Along with XPO, a clean energy exposition, the Solar Decathlon is expected to attract 100,000 visitors from Oct. 3 to 6 and Oct. 10 to 13.
Potentially, that’s a lot of traffic—and a lot of fossil fuel burned by cars carrying visitors to a clean-energy event. To address both issues, OCTA applied for and won a competitive grant from the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee (MSRC) of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The $36,800 grant is being used to implement special transit service to the Solar Decathlon.
The Solar Decathlon Express Route 686 offers three pick-up locations in Irvine to deliver riders to the Great Park. Two stops are located on Campus Drive near UC Irvine making it convenient for the large number of students expected to attend. The third stop is at the Irvine Spectrum. All stops offer convenient OCTA bus connections as well as connections to UC Irvine and iShuttle buses. Route 686 will operate every 30 minutes from 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on event days.
From outside Irvine, OCTA offers Metrolink service for visitors to “go green” to the Solar Decathlon and XPO. Metrolink riders exit at Irvine Station and take a free shuttle to the Great Park. As an extra incentive to help visitors walk their environmental talk, OCTA is offering a free gift pack to the first 100 visitors daily who show a Metrolink pass or Route 686 bus coupon at the OCTA XPO booth.