Savings Merit Winter Bus Service Cuts

As
expected, it was a light turnout at this week’s public hearing on Ocean City
winter bus service reductions at City Hall.

The
hearing was planned to gauge public sentiment on a plan to reduce the number of
buses operating on Coastal Highway from November through March.

According
to the town, three buses operate on Coastal Highway in the winter months of the
year during the day and evening hours, while two are used during the graveyard
shift. The city’s plan is to reduce service from three buses to two buses
during the peak times and drop from two to one bus during the slow 10 p.m. to 6
a.m. hours.

There’s
no question this decision is about money, and the city has no problem
acknowledging that. The idea is riders are minimal during these hours, costs
are up to maintain bus service as a whole and there’s a need to further reduce
expenses in general. The city says this reduction during the day and night
hours could save about $109,000, about half of which would come from the night
shift change alone.

The
council needs to weigh the significant cost savings with the inconvenience to
the users. There’s no question this is a service cut and riders could now have
to wait more than an hour for a bus in the middle of the night, rather than the
30-minute average over the years.

The
fact the public hearing drew four speakers is noteworthy and should factor into
this decision. An argument could be made the hearing was held prematurely
because most folks are not thinking about cold weather bus routes in the middle
of August. Nonetheless, the paltry turnout tells us it’s not a matter many
residents feel strongly about one way or the other.

In
fact, most residents will not be affected at all by this decision. Clearly,
cutting more than $100,000 from the town’s expenditures will significantly
affect more than the four people, and those they represented and share their
viewpoints, speaking this week, and it’s a move that’s needed at this time. If
it’s found to be a major problem after one year, the city can always take
another look at it next summer.

 

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