Aerial Tram A Concept Worthy Of A Shelf

Hypocrisy is everywhere if you look hard enough, and the latest example could be the proposed aerial tram in Ocean City if officials give it a lot of consideration.

It’s extremely preliminary and the chances are it will never actually happen, but the fact a gondola-like tram along the Boardwalk was even put on this week’s Mayor and Council agenda has raised some eyebrows.

The plan is the $10 million brain child of two entrepreneurs who have proposed a similar concept in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, among other places. A presentation was to be made at City Hall this week, but it was later postponed to garner private support and make some adjustments.

Although the details are rough at this point, the idea is to construct an aerial tram or gondola from the Inlet to 16th Street along the east side of the Boardwalk.

The tram would reportedly have six- to eight-person cabins ferrying north and south and tickets would cost about $6 round trip. The tram, which reportedly has secured solid financing, would be seasonal, running from April to October and operated from 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

This is not the first time something like this has been proposed. Informally, some residents have suggested something along these lines for years. However, most discussions have centered around an alternative mode of transportation along Coastal Highway.

As recent as his latest run for office, longtime resident George Feehley suggested a similar operation be erected over the bay linking West Ocean City and the downtown area. The idea was it would cut down on bridge traffic, extend the life of the span and be a public relations bonanza. Feehley was not elected and the idea never resurfaced.

While we applaud ingenuity, the Mayor and Council cannot truly give this idea much serious consideration.

Officials owe it to the gentlemen behind the concept to listen to them at some point and possibly even like what they hear, but we must recall some of the sitting council members also said they would never vote for a wind farm off the town’s coast if they are visible at all from the Boardwalk or beach. They were so outraged over the view being obstructed at least two sitting council members said they would never support the alternative energy project if the turbines could be seen, even if they are thumbnail size and only visible on crystal clear days, a rarity around here.

By that logic alone and for consistency’s sake, the concept should be dismissed in Ocean City. If a thumbnail of windmill is objectionable, imagine what beachfront property owners or oceanfront hotel room occupants along the proposed route will think.

Additionally, this plan is more about amusement than practicality.

It’s no secret a few months out of the year Ocean City has congestion issues. There’s not enough parking to meet the demand at peak times, and there’s too many vehicles on the roads at times, leading to gridlock on Coastal Highway and particularly on the arteries leading into Ocean City.

Along the Boardwalk, the current tram is almost always empty during the day and only on peak weekends seems to be used to its fullest extent. The aerial tram is a novel concept and more than likely has its place, but not for this resort town and certainly not along the Boardwalk.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.