New System to Track Bus Locations

OCEAN CITY – The City Council voted to move forward with the purchasing of an auto vehicle locater for the town’s bus system this week, despite a lack of state grant assistance.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins reported this week the anticipated grant funding for the purchase of the auto vehicle locator (AVL) system was no longer an option.

The City Council approved the purchase of the system in January 2007 with the understanding that the purchase would be supported through a MTA grant percentage in the ratio of 80/10/10, (federal/state/local).

The AVL system aims to provide the town with a better look at the bus system. A screen would show where all of the buses are in town, allowing dispatchers to coordinate and re-route buses.

When the City Council approved the purchase last January, they were to enter into a contract with Sprint/Nextel with the understanding that Sprint/Nextel would have the approved assurances or contracts from MTA.

“After numerous months of effort the MTA was not able or willing to accept any previous contractual documentation that Sprint/Nextel was able to provide,” reported Adkins.

As a result, Adkins said if the town wished to further pursue the purchase of the AVL system, the town would have to do so without grant assistance, which would be a cost of $68,466 for 2008.

“We still feel the system is adequate to fit our needs,” said Adkins. “It will be another tool in the arsenal.”

The delay and overcrowding of buses is a common complaint among visitors and residents in Ocean City, a problem that could be solved with the implementation of the AVL system. Adkins noted that, if successful, the AVL system could be expanded to trash trucks and police cars.

Adkins also pointed out that while the initial costs are onerous, the long-term savings far outweigh those initial costs. Control of bus travel and deployment could ultimately reduce energy costs.

Council member Jim Hall made a motion to move forward with the purchase of the system, but not all were enamored with the price tag.

“I’m all for the AVL system, I’m not for paying for it all,” said Council member Lloyd Martin in opposition. “The buses are going to jam up downtown anyway.”

However, City Manager Dennis Dare, pointed out the benefits of the AVL system.

“You all have been telling us to get these buses running right,” said

“If we’re going to spend this kind of money, I want to see results,” said Council President Joe Mitrecic.

The council voted five in favor, with Council members Martin and Margaret Pillas in opposition, to move forward with the purchase.