(Jan. 10, 2020) The Worcester County Commissioners agreed to continue providing an $80,000 grant to the Town of Ocean City for the Park N’ Ride shuttle service on Tuesday, and accepted changes to the service proposed by resort government.
The West Ocean City Shuttle typically runs between the South Division Street Transit Center, West Ocean City Park N’ Ride and the White Marlin Mall beginning in May and intermittently into October. The $3 fee covers rides all day.
Last month, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan sent a letter to the commissioners to inform them of the changes that emerged from a parking task force. He said that one recommendation was to raise the in season parking rates in downtown Ocean City, while also making the Park and Ride shuttle free.
“The logic behind this was to encourage more workers and visitors to park at the Park and Ride and free up additional spaces in the downtown area,” Meehan said in the letter.
He further explained that the free service would be available for pedestrians traveling to and from West Ocean City and to Worcester County residents using Shore Transit to transfer to the Park N’ Ride, meaning that the $3 transfer fee would also be waived. In addition, the route to the White Marlin Mall will be discontinued because the additional sidewalks on Route 50 make it unnecessary, according to Meehan.
Although the trips will be shorter, the loss in revenue will keep the operating deficit of the shuttle service at about $160,000. Because of this, Meehan said he needed to notify the county of the various changes.
During the meeting, County Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic pointed out that a huge, unquantifiable number of visitors and J-1 student workers use the shuttle service. However, Commissioner Chip Bertino said he could not vote to continue the measure at this time.
“I don’t necessarily have a problem with what’s being asked for,” Bertino said. “This is a budget item, and . . . to approve it before we go through the budget, I have a problem with.”
The motion to continue to provide the grant, along with the changes proposed by Ocean City, passed, with Bertino opposing and Commissioner Joshua Nordstrom absent.