With physical distancing likely to remain the norm for months, Ocean City’s summer will be different. The crowds are not going to be the same and the city must prepare for that eventuality with a responsible budget. One modification Ocean City can and should make is eliminating the Boardwalk tram service for this summer.
It’s an opportunity for the Ocean City Mayor and Council to err on the side of caution and make a responsible decision.
An argument could be made people should be able to decide whether to ride the tram. It’s a matter of choice. However, concessions will surely need to be made in the name of safety. Certain rows on the tram will need to be closed and rules will need to be in place as far as groups and overall occupancy numbers.
A responsible leadership move for Ocean City would be to eliminate the tram because it will be nearly impossible to institute physical distancing while not taking a financial loss. In this case, it doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective to offer a service that can’t be profitable because ridership will need to be curtailed. It’s a decision driven by health and economic concerns. Members of the town’s transportation committee seemed to be leaning that way, but it’s a decision for the full Mayor and Council in the coming weeks.
Full capacity service will not be happening in Ocean City this summer on any level. Restaurants will not be able to function at full capacity most likely unless the state’s phasing out of restrictions hits an unexpected rate. Bars may not anytime soon be able to have people sitting next to each other unless they are part of the same party. There will be new guidelines, which either cost more money to adhere to or prevent the same level of revenue from being recorded. In some cases, the mandatory changes forced on restaurants may do both.
For restaurants, many operators are currently constructing safety measures in their businesses. Plexiglass barriers between tables are being built in at least a few places, while others are investing in high-tech cleaning systems that ensure efficient turnover when the crowds return.
It’s an impossible situation to navigate through for business owners as well as government decision makers. We must make the best of it amid an ocean of uncertainty. All decisions need to represent a balance between financial well-being and safe operations.
The Boardwalk tram falls into the category of not worth offering at this time. To safely offer the service will require restrictions on ridership, resulting in less revenue coming in with most likely similar expenses. It will likely be a financial loss this summer. We think it should be sidelined for this summer out of an abundance of safety as well as financial sense.