FENWICK ISLAND — The Town of Fenwick Island is looking to provide a shuttle service for visitors and residents alike during the summer months to help cut down on traffic and relieve parking issues.
The Parking Committee has passed forward a recommendation to the Town Council to consider putting out a Request For Proposal (RFP) to provide a Municipal Shuttle Service.
According to Town Manager Merritt Burke, the RFP would allow a vendor to have semi-exclusive access throughout the town and to the Route 54 interchange. After discussing the RFP with Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the town has two options.
“Apparently it is not as easy as one would think to do a shuttle service. There are fixed route and non-fixed route shuttle services in the State of Delaware,” Burke said.
A fixed route service, such as the Jolly Trolley in Rehoboth Beach or the Bethany Beach Municipal Shuttle, picks up passengers at a designated location and travels on a schedule. It does not require a contract for passengers to sign like a limo service, it is unlimited to 10 or more passengers, there is no defined terminal required like a limo service and drivers are required to have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL), which could be a motor vehicle or Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) with or without a trailer.
A non-fixed route is essentially a limo service that requires contracts to be signed by passengers to and from the point of travel, needs a defined terminal, such as Town Hall, no CDL is required, and it can have 15 passengers or less. However, limos cannot wait for passengers like State of Delaware taxis. This also can be a motor vehicle or LSV with or without a trailer. Burke used the examples of Nantuckets Restaurant shuttle service or the Black Pearl as non-fixed route shuttle services that operate in Fenwick Island.
“I don’t think a fixed route would work,” Vice-Mayor Gene Langan said. “I don’t think we have enough demand for it.”
Treasurer Gardner Bunting, who serves on the Parking Committee, relayed it was the general idea of the committee that it would be more convenient for visitors and residents to have one phone number to call for a shuttle service shuttle service that would pick up passengers and take them to their desired locations within Fenwick.
“Our intention never was to have a fixed route,” Bunting said. “The idea basically was to pick people up from their homes and take them where they wanted to go, and take them back afterwards. Hopefully that would reduce vehicular traffic, especially in the evenings. It was also a safety concern for people who go out and have a couple drinks with dinner, and they may bot prefer to be driving, so that would give them the opportunity to have a designated driver.”
Marc McFaul of the Ropewalk restaurant served on the Parking Committee and explained the Ropewalk wanted to provide a shuttle service for restaurant patrons but was not sure if it was allowed and went with a valet service last summer instead.
“The question was if we [businesses] all get shuttles, what about the town just having it … we thought it only helps the town, and if it becomes popular have another one run, too,” McFaul said. “The idea came up about the town doing it, having a service staged outside of Town Hall where it would start and then have them come pick you up, take you to the beach, take you to a restaurant, or the store. It’s a service with less parking needs and adds safety with less driving and drinking. It seemed like it couldn’t hurt. It’s a good idea.”
Mayor Audrey Serio agrees Fenwick is in need of a Municipal Shuttle Service during the peak season.
“We are behind the eight ball with providing a shuttle service in town,” she said. “We all know we have parking problems, we all know if you go out at 8 p.m. you might be riding around for two hours to try to find some place to park. So, I think we are going in the right direction. We don’t know until we try it.”
The Town Council voted unanimously to put out the RFP for a non-fixed route shuttle service. The RFP will be due by mid-March with an approval scheduled by the end of that month.
According to the proposed RFP, the Town of Fenwick Island is “seeking proposals from qualified Municipal Shuttle Service Operators to transport residents, non-residents and visitors within the designated shuttle service area. The shuttle service would commence Saturday, May 24, 2014 at 8 a.m. and end on Monday, September 15, 2014 at 2 a.m.
“The shuttle service would operate daily from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., and would be staged out of Town Hall parking lot at 800 Coastal Hwy. The operator routes will include the Town of Fenwick Island and the unincorporated areas to Fenwick Ave. The routes will not include Route 54, including the State of Maryland, but not limited to, the incorporated areas of Ocean City. Two shuttles will be allowed to operate during the approved hours with the capacity of each being no more than 20 passengers.”