OC To Charge $5 For Unlimited Bus Rides For Play It Safe Participants

OCEAN CITY – The town has decided to charge a flat $5 fee for Play It Safe participants to ride the bus unlimited during their stay next June.

Following a Recreation and Parks Commission meeting on Dec. 9, the commission went into closed session to address charging for Play it Safe wristbands this year that will allow participants to ride the town’s bus service.

During Fiscal Year 2015 Budget discussions, Public Works Director suggested several alternative revenue enhancements including charging for Play It Safe wristbands once again.

Play It Safe provides a wide variety of activities for high-school graduates visiting Ocean City during June. The program handed out 7,194 wristbands last year, allowing participants to ride the bus for free.

At one time, there was a proposal in place to start charging Play It Safe participants $5 for the wristbands, but it never came to fruition.

“Play It Safe is a fabulous program and I know it has 100 percent support of the Mayor and City Council,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “When you think about it in today’s world of 2014, $5 is the cost of one large soda. It is not a significant cost, especially for the young adults that come down here, and if you look at the money that could be raised from that, about $25,000 to $30,000, that would help offset the extra cost we have assigning police officers to ride the bus during that time period to help keep order on the buses and protect the bus drivers and other people on the bus that are subjected to the party atmosphere that can be created. We want everybody to have a good time but we also want everybody to feel safe.”

As a result of the closed session, the commission recommended the council approve an alternative cash-handling policy for the Play It Safe wristbands.

Commission Chair and Councilman Dennis Dare explained if wristbands were sold at Play It Safe events it would require the town to provide city staff to handle the cash as well as police for security, which would mean additional labor costs.

The commission recommended Play It Safe participants go to existing town cash-control points, such as City Hall, the Public Safety Building, Northside Park or the Tram Station, and pay the $5 for the wristband. In return, they will receive a ticket that they will exchange with Play It Safe volunteers at any of the program’s events in exchange for the wristband that will allow them to ride the bus unlimited during their stay in Ocean City.

The council voted unanimously to approve the new cash-handling policy for the Play It Safe wristbands.