Ocean City Maintains $50 Inlet Parking Fee More About Convenience Than Money

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials are hoping Fourth of July beach-goers will enjoy their day on the beach and Boardwalk and hang out for the fireworks without having to worry about beating the meter with the new option to pay a $50 flat fee at the Inlet parking lot.

On Thursday, July 4, the Town of Ocean City will be charging a $50 fee for all-day parking in the Inlet parking lot. The fee is good for one entry and will allow visitors to come as early as 5 a.m. and stay as late as midnight, without being charged an hourly parking rate.

“We hope the new flat fee parking will allow our visitors to be more flexible during their trip to Ocean City on July 4,” said John VanFossen, Deputy Director of Public Works.  “We think this will not only allow visitors the opportunity to come to Ocean City early and stay late, but it will also smooth the amount of traffic exiting the downtown area after the fireworks.”

The decision to charge a flat-rate fee in the Inlet lot on Fourth of July was made by the Mayor and City Council back in April during a budget session. However, after receiving major backlash once the flat fee reminder was announced over social media, the town wants to make clear the decision was based on convenience rather than revenue.

“When the decision was made to make this change, we knew this wasn’t going to be the option for everyone but we were looking for a way to ease traffic congestion on Baltimore Ave., and make it easier for people when they are leaving the Inlet,” Communications Manager Jessica Waters said.

Waters explained the town has received complaints from those who park in the Inlet parking lot to watch the fireworks but end up paying the most waiting in traffic to leave as one car is allowed to exit at a time through the ticket-and-pay process.

Waters added for those who do choose to pay the flat fee, they will feel no such rush to get in their cars and leave after the fireworks. Instead, they can enjoy the Boardwalk a little while longer while waiting for traffic to thin out.

“As you can imagine, it can be a lengthy process for 1,200 cars,” Waters said. “We are thinking it would help from having everyone leave at the same time. When you’re not on the meter, you are not rushing to get out of the parking lot.”

The fireworks are scheduled to go off at 9:30 the evening of July 4, Waters pointed out, so for the family planning to spend the day at the beach, have dinner on the Boardwalk and stay to watch the fireworks, the $50 flat fee to park in the Inlet lot all day is the way to go, according to the town.

For instance, city officials point to math to bolster that claim. With Fourth of July falling on a Thursday, the town charges $2.50 per hour on weekdays to park in the Inlet parking lot, and 5 a.m. until midnight covers a 19-hour period. Without the $50 flat-fee, those who choose to park in the Inlet lot would be charged $47.50 to park over that span of time. With that long a stretch unlikely for most, a more reasonable example may be 10 a.m. to midnight (14 hours) and that would equal $35.

“For the convenience, it will outweigh the costs,” Waters said. “There is a misconception, and why people are getting upset is that they think it was done for revenue purposes but it was not … it was a decision that was made to improve operations for our visitors and hopefully make traffic flow a little smoother, and avoid having people pay for time they are waiting in traffic … the good news is we have multiple options for parking.”

For visitors who don’t think the flat-fee parking in the Inlet lot is for them, Ocean City offers additional lots and street parking that utilizes the Cale parking system or they can find free parking on some streets. Municipal lots are in effect 24 hours per day and street parking is in effect 7 a.m. until midnight.  

Municipal lots are located on Worcester Street, Somerset Street, Dorchester Street, North Division Street, 4th Street and the West Ocean City Park & Ride.

During last spring’s budget talks, it was pointed out some private lots in the downtown area have been charging as much as $50 for a space for just the night for some time.

7 comments on “Ocean City Maintains $50 Inlet Parking Fee More About Convenience Than Money

  1. Anything decided during budget discussion time is all about the money and nothing more. Just who are the city officials trying to kid. I’d like to see the city officials work the Inlet parking lot entrance and experience personally the visitors response to the $50 fee.

  2. I think since the city is always in search of ways to promote tourism and make more people aware of OC they should have made all parking in OC and the buses free from midnight until midnight on the 4th.
    They could have played it up as not being able to do anything about the crowds and traffic but to make everyone’s 4th as painless as possible to offer something for free as a consolation. They could have received much free publicity for OC by sending press releases to newspapers up to 300 miles away. Newspapers are always willing to print something that’s new, creative and innovating.

  3. People expect traffic tie-ups on the 4th of July. The inlet lot is city owned. Why doesn’t OC doe what the rest of America does on this holiday – FREE PARKING! Oh wait, that goes against the gouge tourist era that the town seems to be going through. . .

  4. If it looks like a duck, flies like a duck and quacks like a duck…its all about SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!

    Making jokes is the only way to take his seriously. Its actually an embarassment.

    NOT paying to park ever ~BUSHMAN!~

  5. If it looks like a duck, flies like a duck and quacks like a duck…its all about SHOW ME THE MONEY!!!!

    Making jokes is the only way to take his seriously. Its actually an embarassment.

    NOT paying to park ever ~BUSHMAN!~

  6. If you are lurking in these comments Councilmember Ashley let me remind you that you were part of the 7-0 vote that authorized this fee. Mr Ashley ,if any single event is responsible for a decrease in tourism, it would be your interview on WBAL where you told hundreds of thousands of people that Ocean City has a gang problem. Before you play in the big leagues you need to work on not being led down the proverbial garden path by a seasoned reporter.

  7. The city is no longer a good place to take my family. From the drunks and sluts on the boardwalk to the gang bangers running around. Why don’t you focus on the drug problem or the fact that you have gang members running the boardwalk. I love this town, but it’s becoming to costly and dangerous for a family of 5.

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