Ocean City Seeking Five New Buses For Next Summer

OCEAN CITY – Months of discussion among Transportation Commission members regarding the purchase of buses to add to Ocean City’s fleet is nearing a head as the Mayor and City Council approved soliciting bids.

On Tuesday afternoon, Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons requested the Mayor and City Council’s approval to solicit proposals for three 40-foot transit buses as approved in the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget.

Parsons explained the Transportation Department requested permission from the Maryland Transit Authority (MTA) to purchase 40-foot transit buses as part of the FY14 Annual Transportation Plan submission. The funding was approved. However, after unsuccessful attempts over many months of researching and dialogue with the MTA, the town was unable to find a governmental contract to “piggy back” off of for the three, 40-foot buses. The MTA then required the town to generate its own set of technical specifications.

Parsons furthered, currently the Procurement and Transportation Departments are creating a request for proposal that will be used nationally, contingent upon the MTA’s approval. These specifications will not only enable Ocean City to secure the buses that funding has been acquired for, but it will position other transit agencies to “order off of” the contract the town establishes.

Another item before the Mayor and City Council for approval is to “piggy back” off of Port Authority of Alleghany County’s RFP for the purchase of up to three, 60-foot articulating buses as approved in the FY15 Budget.

Parsons explained, as part of the FY15 Annual Transportation Plan submission, the Transportation Department requested the MTA’s permission to purchase 40-foot transit buses, which was approved. However, after dialogue with the Transportation Committee, the need for 60-foot articulating buses was established.

The Transportation Department took this request back to the MTA, who supported converting FY15 funding for the 40-foot buses.

Parsons furthered, the Transportation Department learned that the Port Authority contract has a “piggy back” clause and the city gained approval to be assigned to that contract.

The council voted unanimously to approve both the solicitations of bids for the three 40-foot buses, as well as to “piggy back” off of Port Authority’s RFP to solicit proposals for up to three, 60-foot articulating buses.

Discussion among the Transportation Commission regarding new bus purchases to meet the goal of increasing capacity and lessening driver dependency due to the issue of bus driver shortages started earlier this year.

At that time Public Works Director Hal Adkins explained in FY14 the town was awarded a grant in the amount of $1,362,000 to purchase three, 40-foot diesel buses, and the same was awarded in FY15 totaling $2,724,000 with a local match of 10 percent. The estimated cost for a 40-foot diesel bus is $425,000 that seats 35 with 18 standees. A 60-foot diesel articulating bus is about $700,000 that seats 63 with 31 standees.

The commission even considered the thought of adding double decker buses to the fleet. After some research, Risk Manager Eric Langstrom expressed concern over surveillance on the second floor as well as issues that may arise with ascending and descending stairs.

Langstrom furthered low hanging wires, the position of utility poles on corners where the double decker will be making turns and building overhangs on the transit stations would have to be reviewed.

Ocean City Police Department Capt. Kevin Kirstein acknowledged there are pros to double decker buses, such as the novelty factor, but the Town would have to hire security for the second floor.

Fleet Manager Ron Eckman added, storing and servicing double decker buses at the Public Works Complex will be a challenge as the vehicle would just barley fit into the shop and could only be lifted 2.5 feet off the ground before hitting the ceiling. Other issues included training to service a double decker bus, fitting the vehicle under the awning at the present fuel station and towing in the event of a malfunction.

The commission voted to have a RFP drafted for the purchase of three, 40-foot buses to be purchased by the FY14 grant and two artic buses to be purchased by FY15 grant funds.

Teachers Can Vie For White Board, School Supply Funds

POCOMOKE CITY – A Pocomoke City company wants to celebrate the start of the school year with a chance for teachers to win a tool that will help them in the classroom and increase their own safety. Hardwire, the armor manufacturing company based in Pocomoke City, is offering a first of its kind contest that will provide one winning teacher … Continue reading

New Pines Medical Facility On Route 589 Nearly Done

BERLIN – A year after the start of construction, the first phase of the medical complex adjacent to the north entrance of Ocean Pines is being prepared for opening. According to developer Palmer Gillis, staff from Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) will begin moving furniture and equipment into the new 20,000-square-foot building next week. The new facility will allow for … Continue reading

Man Dies After Ocean Rescue; Swim Near Lifeguard Reminder Issued

OCEAN CITY — A tragic loss of a 45-year-old man on Saturday following a rescue from a rip current on the beach at 139th Street re-emphasized the importance of swimming near a lifeguard, particularly with the Beach Patrol’s ranks dwindling heading into September. The Ocean City Beach Patrol was busy on Saturday with over 350 rescues recorded due to strong … Continue reading

Habitat Eyes Berlin Mixed-Use Development

BERLIN – A new Habitat for Humanity project in downtown Berlin could provide housing and retail space as well as annual income for the organization. On Monday, the Berlin Town Council agreed to support plans presented by Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County to pursue financial assistance from the state to develop a Washington Street property. Officials from the nonprofit … Continue reading

Concerns Over Possible Athletic Complex Expansion Aired

SALISBURY – The ball is in Wicomico County’s field, as Salisbury awaits stipulations to be met prior to further consideration of a land donation that would permit the expansion of Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex at Naylor Mill Park. Last October the Wicomico County Council considered the acceptance of a donation of property from the City of Salisbury, consisting of … Continue reading

Resort Hotel Fire Classified As Accidental

OCEAN CITY — An early morning fire at the historic Atlantic Hotel on the Boardwalk at Wicomico Street on Monday was accidental and started in a ground-floor laundry room. Shortly after 4 a.m. on Monday, the Ocean City fire and police departments responded to the Atlantic Hotel on the Boardwalk for a report of smoke coming from the building. Upon … Continue reading

Proposed Berlin Youth Activity Center Seeking Loan From State To Get Project Underway

BERLIN – Town officials again voiced their support of the activity center proposed by a local businesswoman as she seeks funding help from the state. The Berlin Town Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of Carmella Solito’s plan to build a youth activity center — to feature daycare and gymnastics, among other things — on Old Ocean City Boulevard. … Continue reading

Bus Driver Recruitment Efforts Called Successful

OCEAN CITY – This month the Transportation Commission reviewed several ongoing efforts in increasing the bus and tram services that have proven to be successful. According to Public Works Director Hal Adkins, in July there were 32,000 more passengers on the buses compared to last year, and there were 424 more deployments, which is an increase of 23.3 percent. In … Continue reading

Street Performers Call New System ‘Badly Broken’; City Making Some Immediate Adjustments

OCEAN CITY – As the summer winds down, a list of what is not working for performers on the Boardwalk was voiced before the Mayor and City Council with officials assuring their concerns will be reviewed for possible change. An ordinance on second reading to update language within the City Code regarding street performers came before the council on Monday … Continue reading