Ocean City Hopes New Tram Units Available For Winterfest

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials received an estimated timeline for the arrival of the new Boardwalk tram coaches and towing vehicles last week before delving into a discussion on the need for an additional motor unit.

Last week, Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons and Fleet Manager Ron Eckman presented the Ocean City Transportation Committee with an approximate timeline for the arrival of the town’s new Boardwalk tram fleet.

Late last year, the Mayor and Council opted to replace the existing motor units of the Boardwalk trams with Jeep Wranglers after ruling out gas-powered and electric units. The Jeeps were ultimately chosen for their efficiency and lower cost estimates.

In its next major decision, the Mayor and Council last month also voted to purchase eight sets of tram passenger coaches. Under the proposal, each of the coaches will have an updated state-of-the-art sound and intercom system, cameras located throughout the trams and bench seating with a capacity of 80 passengers.

Parsons told the committee last week the first shipment of Jeeps would arrive by the end of August.

“There are two more that are scheduled to be built next week and they’ll be delivered by mid-September,” she said. “There’s one that’s been assigned a vin number, but no build date yet.”

Parsons noted, however, that the first set of tram coaches would not arrive until Nov. 4, and the last set of coaches would not arrive until the week of April 5.

“The last one should come in that week,” she said.

Eckman added that the Jeeps and coaches would be sent to Meadow Hydraulics for assembly before they would be fully operational.

“As soon as we get the Jeeps, they are going to be shipped over there and as soon as we get the first set of coaches, they will also go over there,” he said. “That way we will be able to make the connections … I am hoping that we’ll have the four of them by the first of the year ready to go.”

Despite the narrow timeline, Eckman told the committee he would like to see some units completed in time for Winterfest of Lights.

“That might be a good testing area for the new set of trams,” he said.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins also noted additional expenses the committee should be aware of once the trams are delivered. He said secondary expenses would include the transfer of advertising panels and backlights to the new coaches and the consideration of an additional motor unit.

“My concern would be the following,” he said. “Next summer we have eight full deployments, eight really nice Jeeps, and we blow the transmission out of one of them. You’re not going to fix it that day, and if it’s in July in the middle of the evening we start losing deployment, you start losing revenue. It quickly pays for this discussion.”

While it would not have to be decided in the near future, Adkins said he recommended the town purchase an additional Jeep.

“It needs to be on the radar screen,” he said.

Council President Lloyd Martin agreed.

“I recommend that too,” he said, “but at the same time we don’t have to buy it right away.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.