OCEAN CITY — Ocean City’s new transit manager has hit the ground running in his first month on the job after being hired in mid-June.
After a lengthy search that included interviews with several qualified candidates, resort officials in mid-June announced they had hired Mark Rickards as the new transit manager. Rickards, who grew up in Frankford, Del. and attended Indian River High School, has been on the job for a few weeks now, but last week was formally introduced to the resort’s Transportation Committee and on Tuesday got a formal introduction to the Mayor and Council.
Rickards said he worked for seven summers at a crab house in Fenwick and came to Ocean City almost every night at that time to enjoy all the resort had to offer. Those experiences continued a lifetime of visits to the resort.
“As a child, I have fond memories of Trimper’s Rides,” he said. “As a teen, I used to roam the Boardwalk. When this opportunity came up, I couldn’t turn it down. This is a homecoming for me.”
Public Works Director Hal Adkins said Rickards’ familiarity with the area was secondary to his vast experience in public transportation.
“He’s a native of area and he is a perfect fit for us,” he said. “We want to welcome him home.”
Rickards went to High Point University in North Carolina and served for five years on that town’s police department. Rickards then went to graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill where he stumbled on an internship related to transit and found his calling.
For the next three decades, Rickards held various leadership positions with transit operations in North Carolina and Virginia. His most recent position was director of public transportation for Greenville, S.C. before he learned of the opening for Ocean City transit manager.
“I wasn’t even looking, but I saw an opportunity to come home and I’m very happy to be here,” he said. “This is where I want to be and I think my experience will help here.”
As transit manager, Rickards will oversee the resort’s transportation division including a fleet of nearly 70 buses, eight Boardwalk trams with 24 tram cars and roughly 250 employees. He will direct and oversee the operations and planning of the division as well as function ass the town’s lead representative to the Maryland Transit Authority and the Federal Transportation Administration. In addition, he will direct recruitment efforts to secure adequate staffing levels for seasonal and year-round operations. Rickards comes on board during the peak of the summer season and many of the resort’s transportation issues have been resolved thanks in large part to yeoman’s work by Acting Superintendent of Transportation Wayne Pryor, Public Works Director Hal Adkins and the transportation committee, but there are still daily challenges with the number of bus drivers available and the complex deployment schedules.
Mayor Rick Meehan said the town would draw heavily from Rickards’ vast experience.
“We’re happy to have you,” he said. “We have transportation challenges just like everybody does and we’re going to rely on your expertise.”
Rickards is no stranger to running a transit system in a tourism-driven community and understands the need for efficiency and friendliness.
“The citizens are very important, especially in a resort town,” he said. “Bus drivers are often the first contact for visitors.”