2x Boardwalk trams

Transit Manager Mark Rickards reported tram ridership has been strong this summer during the Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday.

(July 13, 2018) Despite the popularity of the Transloc Rider app, customer use of the program has leveled off somewhat with more frequent bus deployments during summer months.

City Transit Manager Mark Rickards told the Transportation Committee on Tuesday that minimal headway times, averaging around seven minutes, have been maintained for bus arrivals this summer.

“If we didn’t have the frequency we’d probably have more hits on Transloc,” he said. “You just don’t need to track where it is when you can see it coming.”

Since going live on New Year’s Day, Rickards said the phone app has been well received by customers and staff.

“We passed the 100,000 mark in hits about a week ago … just before the Fourth of July,” he said. “We’re getting about 900 hits a day [and] it’s close to 5,000 different users.”

While the relatively high number of users and hits are impressive, Rickards said statistics indicate warmer weather has not ramped up usage.

“Percentage wise in the winter, we still get as many hits, but we don’t have as many buses out,” he said.

Bus ridership dropped slightly for the first week of this month Rickards said, reaching approximately 153,000 through July 8, compared to more than 164,000 during the same period in 2017. In total, Ocean City had more than 559,000 bus riders last July.

Councilman Lloyd Martin said bouts of subpar weather could be one reason for the reduced ridership numbers, with rain causing visitors to use their own vehicle.

“That’s part of your problem … we’ve had seven weekends in a row with rain,” he said.

Despite the dip, Rickards said operations are fundamentally sound, with clean buses, helpful drivers and timely arrivals.

“Those are the type of problems other systems have when ridership goes down,” he said.

Shifting to Boardwalk trams, Rickards said there has been a small uptick of users.

“We’re up one percent for the year on tram ridership,” he said. “Anytime we’re over 5,000 riders [per day] on the tram, that’s really good and we hit that mark on July 4-5.”

Through the first week of July, approximately 153,000 people have hopped the trams, compared to more than 151,000 at the same point last year.

The introduction of specially modified Jeeps to compensate for older tram engines has also been instrumental in maintaining a smooth flow of services, Rickards said.

“Whenever we have an old tram that goes down, we’re pulling in the new Jeeps so we’re not missing deployments,” he said. “Unlike buses, with trams, July and August are our biggest months.”

Mayor Rick Meehan said it appears the trams are already at peak levels.

“I was on the Boardwalk last night [and] I don’t know how the engines could pull those cars because there were so many people on them,” he said.

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