Aim is to reduce contact between riders, conductors

(Feb. 12, 2021) After last week’s announcement of the Boardwalk tram’s return to service after a one-year hiatus because of the covid-19 pandemic, Ocean City officials are now considering the elimination of a discount punch card that can be purchased on the tram to reduce interaction between riders and conductors.

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Mayor Rick Meehan

Transportation Committee members met on Tuesday morning to discuss the move when Mayor Rick Meehan expressed his concerns.

“This isn’t purchased in advance as an incentive to ride,” Meehan said. “It’s purchased on the tram.”

Buying the card on the tram initiates more contact between the two parties, he added, while the circumstances would be different if the card could be purchased in advance.

If approved, the eradication of the card will be in line with measures taken to reduce bus capacities for safety reasons.

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Hal Adkins

“Our recommendation is you eliminate the punch card,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins said, acknowledging that reducing interaction between the rider and conductor was a necessary safety measure.

The topic will be discussed further by City Council at a later date.

In addition to discussing the possible knockout of the punch card to ride the Boardwalk tram, committee members were advised that bus ridership revenue from March 2019 to January 2020 and March 2020 to January 2021 was down 74 percent, going from $2,581,194 to $661,612.

Between March 2019 and January 2020, 2,288,715 passengers rode the bus. In comparison, between July 2020 and January 2021, only 458,777 passengers rode the bus, resulting in a decline of 1,829,938 riders, or 80 percent. 

Given the low ridership and the lack of events happening at the convention center on 40th Street, Meehan said he was not sure if it was wise to ramp up bus service in April.

Instead, he said, he would rather see service increased sometime between mid-May and Memorial Day.

And finally, after 10 years of planning and developing the Ocean City Department of Public Works’ new mega complex on 64th street, dubbed the “campus project,” work is nearly complete.

In fact, Adkins suggested that once the furniture is installed next week, the building will be complete.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held on March 19 at 11 a.m. to celebrate the completion of the project.

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