OCEAN CITY — Resort officials this week signed off on a plan to restore the Boardwalk tram service beginning Memorial Day weekend.
Last month, the Transportation Committee voted to forward a favorable recommendation to the full Mayor and Council to bring back the Boardwalk tram this summer after the service was discontinued last year for COVID-related reasons. On Monday, the Mayor and Council unanimously approved the plan to restore Boardwalk tram service on May 28, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.
Last spring, the governor’s restrictions on mass transit and amusements made operating the Boardwalk tram impractical. As some of the restrictions were eased during early stages of its recovery plan, there was considerable discussion about bringing back the tram. However, the tram service was fraught with COVID-related challenges. Short of taping off some of the seating or removing some of benches entirely, social distancing on the trams would have been difficult. Another concern raised was the crowding the trams cause on the Boardwalk when they roll through large crowds of pedestrians.
Finally, after considerable debate at different levels, the council voted to discontinue the service entirely for the summer last year. Now, with the state’s COVID metrics waning and vaccinations being administered, albeit painstakingly, the council voted unanimously this week to restore the Boardwalk tram service.
“The trams need to get up and running,” said Councilman Mark Paddack, who made the motion. “We need to get this operation restored and there is a lot of training that needs to be done.”
The trams will operate under whatever state COVID guidelines are in place when the service resumes including social distancing and the mask requirement. The initial motion to restore the Boardwalk tram service included the mandated wearing of masks for all drivers and conductors and passengers. However, Council President Matt James said the trams should be operated under whatever state guidelines are still in place at the time.
“We’re saying masks are required for passengers, but what if we’re not there still?” he said. “If we are still there, fine. Why don’t we just say the trams will be operated following local, state and federal guidelines in place?”