OCEAN CITY – The Mayor and City Council clarified the town’s policy this week on whether children below a certain height should be allowed to ride for free on municipal buses.
According to the Superintendent of Transportation, George Thornes, in the past the department has allowed children under the height of 42 inches to ride for free on the buses and tram. A couple of years ago, that rule was discontinued and a fee was placed for children to ride.
In the past year, the department has received complaints on the regulation regarding the fee for children to ride. Due to confusion of the policy, some bus or tram drivers would allow an infant or toddler to ride for free, while others didn’t. Confusion arose amongst drivers and passengers on what the rule was regarding a children’s fee.
Annapolis Transit, Jolly Trolley in Rehoboth Beach and Atlantic City Jitneys base their child’s fare on age, while Virginia Beach and DART Resort Transit base their child fares on height.
The Ocean City transportation staff suggested re-instating a policy based on height, figuring age policies are hard to enforce and requires a driver questioning the child’s age.
The department’s suggestion to the council was for “children 38 inches and under are eligible to ride the Public Transportation system on the Coastal Highway route, Park & Ride route, and the Boardwalk Trams free of charge. Children must be with an accompanying adult, limit one child with an accompanying adult.”
Councilman Joe Hall preferred to see the height remain at the pre-existing policy of 42 inches and allow two children on for free per paying adult.
Council President Jim Hall made the point that on most occasions there is more than one child, if not more than two.
“You never take one girl or boy somewhere, you always have to take one of their friends, too,” Jim Hall said. “If there are three, are you going to charge them for one?”
In attempts to make the policy as clear as possible, Joe Hall made a motion to instate a policy to allow a child 42 inches or under to ride for free on the bus, setting an unlimited amount of children per paying adult.
Mary Knight seconded Joe Hall’s motion, and the council voted to accept it unanimously.
The policy will not include the tram.
“On the rare occasion…you are approached with a mother and baby,” Director of Public Works Hal Adkins said. “It doesn’t take up the extra seat.”
Adkins said in that case it should be left up to the discretion of the driver.
“In other words, if you take a seat you pay,” Joe Hall said.