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Transportation Committee briefs

(Feb. 22, 2019) The following items were discussed during the Transportation Committee meeting last Tuesday:

Tram roof repair bids

Bids were opened on Jan. 31 to replace the roof on the South End Tram Station, on the Boardwalk by South First Street. Public Works Director Hal Adkins had estimated earlier that month the job would cost about $21,000.

Adkins told the Transportation Committee the lowest bid among the half dozen submitted, which ranged up to $42,000, was from Diamond Contactors for $19,875.

The Purchasing Department married the unfunded budget item to a bid package for a roof replacement on Fire Station #2 on Dorchester Street, Adkins reported earlier.

Adkins also told the council earlier that the need for repairs became apparent after patch-worked shingles had gradually become unglued and were flapping in winds as low as 10-15 mph, with numerous already unattached.

The scope of work, which is expected to take two months, entails replacing the tram station roof with new asphalt shingles, as well as underlayment, ridge venting and flashing.

Adkins said a bid alternate for a standing seam metal roof was priced at more than $50,000.

Budget Manager Jennie Knapp said re-allocating $20,000 should be feasible based on lower-than-anticipated maintenance costs for the bus fleet, but cast doubt the larger sum could be accommodated.

The Transportation Committee voted to recommend approval by the mayor and City Council.

Bus driver recruitment

Transportation Manager Mark Rickards said extensive marketing efforts to recruit roughly 150 seasonal bus drivers, along with a smaller stock for Boardwalk trams, continues to yield strong results.

“Right now, we have about 100 drivers and some are still about to come back and reapply,” he said.

Rickards said in addition to blanketing area newspapers with advertisements for drivers, other outreach efforts have included contacting more than two dozen local colleges and driving schools, as well as 42 area churches.

Additionally, advertisements are running on the Ocean City government’s website and Facebook page.

Lastly, the Transportation Department plans to take part in several job fairs, including the upcoming WBOC Job Fair on March 2 at Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus in Georgetown.

Rickards said both bus and tram driver hires are about two thirds completed at this point, with 15 of the two-dozen required tram drivers already on board, along with a full complement of conductors.

In light of newly purchased Jeeps being deployed for tram duty this summer, Rickards said a rebranding, of sorts, is in order.

“We’re actually calling them Jeep drivers this year,” he said.

Rickards said marked progress has been achieved since last reviewing active recruitment efforts during the Transportation Committee meeting in January.

“Overall, we’re not worrying as much as a month ago,” he said. “We may not have the 150 (bus drivers) yet but that’s because the job market is so competitive. We are lucky to have the retiree demographic.”

Alternative funds for Transportation Plan

Adkins also reported that several unfunded items in the 2020 Annual Transportation Plan Capital Request from the Maryland Transit Authority are in the pipeline.

“Many items beyond the top three were not fundable [but] we continued to look at ways of funding … items … not … funded by the state,” he said.

During the Transportation Committee meeting in January, Adkins said from among a dozen items totaling more than $22 million, state funding would likely be limited to a trio of requests, including $7 million for the Public Works Campus Plan Construction, $200,00 for Public Works Campus Plan Construction Management and $785,000 for one year of bus fleet preventative maintenance.

Transit Administrative Manager Brian Connor said advice from Budget Manager Jennie Knapp led to finding about $40,000 in a non-fare revenue account that could be used as well.

Connor also reported that a $68,000 ADA para transit van that had been requested turned out to be unnecessary, after Fleet Manager Ron Eckman got the existing vehicle back in road-worthy order, despite the 150,000 miles on the odometer.

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