OCEAN CITY — In what was essentially a mere formality after months of debate, Ocean City officials on Monday approved the purchase of eight new Boardwalk tram coaches and the Jeeps to pull them at a cost of around $1.4 million.
Late last year, the Mayor and Council opted to replace the existing motor units of the Boardwalk trams with Jeep Wranglers after carefully weighing other options including diesel-powered units and even electric-powered units. The jeeps were ultimately chosen for their efficiency and lower cost estimates. After the jeeps were chosen, the next major decision to make on the replacement Boardwalk trams was the style, length and number of coaches to purchase.
In August, Procurement Manager Catrice Parsons presented recommendations to the Mayor and Council after carefully vetting the received bids. However, there were some numbers that had not been finalized. Rather than make a decision at that point, the Mayor and Council instructed Parsons and staff to revisit some of the numbers and come back with a true bottom line.
During Monday’s meeting, the Mayor and Council approved an ordinance authorizing the purchase of eight Jeep Wrangers at a total cost of about $156,000, or around $20,000 each. The ordinance also authorized the purchase of new tram coaches at a total cost of around $1.12 million. The purchase also includes $28,000 for new camera systems on the Boardwalk trams as well as another $83,000 to uplift the new jeeps to make them suitable for use on the Boardwalk.
The ordinance authorizing the purchase of eight new Boardwalk tram coaches includes an option to add a ninth tram coach for an additional fixed cost. Adding the ninth tram coach would provide the flexibility to have nine trams operating on the Boardwalk at peak times, or allow the jeeps to pull a third passenger coach, thereby increasing the capacity. Adding a ninth coach could also increase the capacity of the trams during Winterfest of Lights, for example.
Under the proposal, each of the jeeps will pull two coaches with a capacity of 40 passengers, for a total capacity of 80. The new coaches will have an updated state-of-the-art sound and intercom system, cameras located throughout the trams consistent with the cameras on municipal buses and bench seating with a capacity of 80 passengers. The current trams have a capacity to carry 76 passengers by comparison. For the record, it was reported during last week’s transportation committee meeting that tram ridership was up 7 percent over last year through Labor Day weekend.