OC Looks To Market Bus System’s ‘Best Deal’

OCEAN CITY – The Park & Ride’s fare will be increased to match the Coastal Highway bus system’s fare increase that went into effect almost a year ago.

Last February, the ride-all-day pass for municipal buses in Ocean City increased from $2 to $3, along with an option for one-time boarding cost of $1.

On Tuesday, Public Works Director Hal Adkins said as the department wraps up upcoming budget submissions for the forthcoming fiscal year, fiscal year 2013, officials took a look back on how the new bus fare structure did.

According to Adkins, there was a projected 30-percent increase in revenue from the bus system in FY12 but currently there is only an increase of just fewer than 10 percent. He said that more passengers have chosen the $1 per board fare over the $3 ride-all-day pass. Also, the discounted ticket booklet revenue, which a customer can purchase 20 tickets at the cost of $15, is also down from its projected income.

On the other hand, the Boardwalk tram and bus advertising revenue is up. Recently the Mayor and City Council approved additional advertising on the Boardwalk trams and the bus system that Adkins said will further increase revenue.

“Not good news but I want to tell you I don’t personally feel it is terrible,” Adkins said. “We are at the mid-year point where I think we make a couple changes we can move forward and we can meet our revenue estimates for FY12 and we can get a feel of what we might experience in FY13.”

Moving forward, Adkins made a couple of recommendations. First he asked for some assistance from the Tourism Department and the town’s advertising firm, MGH, to create an advertising campaign to emphasize the “Best Deal”, which is the $3 all-day-pass.

Adkins’ second suggestion was to change the Park & Ride’s fare so that it matches Coastal Highway’s bus fare, $3 ride-all-day pass or a $1 per board, from the current fare of $1 for all day.

“When we changed the fare of the highway months ago, we did not touch the Park & Ride,” Adkins said.

The Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to accept Adkins’ proposal to create an advertising campaign for the bus fare structure, as well as change the Park & Ride’s fare to a $3 ride-all-day pass and $1 per board.