Ocean City Looks To Build On Season’s Tram Success

OCEAN CITY — After what was deemed the best year ever for the Boardwalk tram, Transportation Committee officials this week discussed how to build on that momentum in the future, including the acceptance of credit cards for payment and a potential investment in new vehicles in the future.

During Tuesday’s Transportation Committee meeting, Acting Deputy Director of Transportation Wayne Pryor explained the tram grossed around $1.3 million this year and carried about 460,000 passengers.

“It was a great year for the tram,” he said. “It was the best year ever, actually, and we think there are ways to enhance it in the future. At 460,000 riders, that was about 51,000 over last year.”

Buoyed by a solid late August and early September, with great weather and strong crowds, town officials kept the tram running later this year than ever.

“It’s all about the weather,” said Pryor. “It’s great we decided to put our toes in the water and go for the extended season this year and we need to follow through on next year. During Bike Week, they were pleased to see us out there and many of them had never been on the tram before.”

Mayor and Acting City Manager Rich Meehan agreed the weather made a huge difference.

“Usually, when look at the ridership per day, you see a lot of blanks,” he said. “You just lose some days to the weather. We didn’t have too many of those this year.”

When it came to enhancing the service, one issue debated was utilizing hand-held credit and debit card systems to accept payment. As it stands now, the Boardwalk tram is strictly a cash-only operation, but accepting credit and debit cards could increase volume, speed up the boarding process and eliminate the need to handle large amounts of cash. All agreed to move forward with a credit or debit card acceptance system.

“If we can do it fast, that’s the big thing,” said Pryor. “We don’t want to have long waits along the route while awaiting credit card approvals.”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins added, “I think you have to go all in. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it right.”

In other matters, the two new articulating buses are expected to be delivered early in the 2016 season.

“This is very exciting for the city because it’s the first time we’ve had articulating buses of our own,” said Pryor. “They just sweep your streets when they roll down and wipe out those big crowds on bus stops because of their capacity.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.