Extra Biking Hour Added With Later Boardwalk Tram Start

Extra Biking Hour Added With Later Boardwalk Tram Start
File Photo

OCEAN CITY — There will be a later start time for the trams and an extra hour for bicycles on the Boardwalk this summer.

During a Transportation Committee meeting last week, committee members, at Mayor Rick Meehan’s suggestion, voted to forward a favorable recommendation to the council to move the Boardwalk tram start time from 11 a.m. to noon. The next day, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee voted to recommend moving the Boardwalk bicycle stop time from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

The idea behind the former was to shorten the lightly-traveled early hour of operation for the trams, allow them to be moved into place at each end of the Boardwalk and save a little money on the process. The idea behind the latter is to give morning bicycle riders on the Boardwalk a little more time and ease the transition time between bikes and trams.

On Monday, however, the Mayor and Council voted to approve the noon start time for the trams in one measure. A short time later, the elected officials voted to extend the bicycle stop time on the Boardwalk to noon. The net result of the two votes is not much will change with the morning transition from bikes to trams on the Boardwalk, it will just happen an hour later.

Meehan said his original idea behind adjusting the tram start time to noon was more about logistics, but it could turn out to have an added fiscal benefit as well.

“It turned out to be a cost-saving measure,” he said. “It will make the tram operation more efficient and it also allows us to increase the hours for bike operators. I think this will be well-received by the bicyclists and the bike rental operators.”

Councilman John Gehrig questioned if there was even more wiggle room in the start time for the trams.

“Is noon too early?” he said. “What is our ridership at noon? Does it save us money to have a different start time during the week than the weekend?”

Meehan said those options hadn’t yet been considered, although he cautioned against making the tram start time too complicated. It should be noted the noon start time for the tram would be the daily summer schedule, but the trams would begin at 10 a.m. during Springfest, the two days of the air show and Sunfest.

“That’s a valid question,” he said. “I just think having different start times on different days of the week would create confusion. That can be monitored though.”

In a separate measure, the Mayor and Council voted to move the daily stop time for bicycles on the Boardwalk from 11 a.m. to noon. Last summer, when the trams did not run because of the pandemic, bicycles were allowed on the Boardwalk until 2 p.m. each day. Councilman Mark Paddack said he thought the plan for this year was to stop bicycles on the Boardwalk at 11:30 a.m. in advance of the new noon start time for the trams.

“Originally, I voted for an 11:30 a.m. stop time for bicycles,” he said. “From a police standpoint, they give a grace period to get bicycles off the Boardwalk.”

With the completion of the new public works complex at 2nd Street and St. Louis Avenue, tram mobilization this year will change. The trams will leave the public works complex at 2nd Street where they will be stored and serviced, cross Philadelphia Avenue and Baltimore Avenue and enter the Boardwalk at the ramp at 3rd Street.  After the first two trams enter the Boardwalk, more trams will be added during the day until peak time deployment is reached.

The trams are now equipped with state-of-the-art equipment that will trigger and synchronize the traffic signals at 5th and 2nd streets to allow them to safely cross Philadelphia and Baltimore avenues.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.