Bus, Tram Fare Increases Proposed For Ocean City

Bus, Tram Fare Increases Proposed For Ocean City
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OCEAN CITY – Proposed increases to both bus and tram fares will advance to the Mayor and Council with favorable recommendations from a resort committee.

On Tuesday, the Ocean City Transportation Committee voted unanimously to send a favorable recommendation to the Mayor and Council to raise the town’s bus fare to $4, all day, year-round, beginning May 1 or sooner. City Manager Terry McGean said the proposed increase would be the first in more than a decade.

“Honestly, we haven’t increased it since 2011,” he told committee members. “The projected deficit of the transit system is about $2 million … We’ve got to pay drivers more money, and the cost of diesel fuel is significantly higher.”

Officials say raising the bus fare to $4 would result in a revenue increase of $390,545, assuming bus ridership remains flat.

“In normal times, pre-COVID, when we’d raise the bus fare, we would then assume some decrease in ridership …,” McGean said. “Instead of cutting existing ridership, we’re sort of cutting potential growth.”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins agreed.

“When we raised the fare from $2 to $3 ride all day, we lost about 12% ridership,” he said. “We’re not factoring that in at this time.”

While he said he was reluctant to increase bus fare, Mayor Rick Meehan added he thought it was necessary.

“We have to be realistic,” he said.

With a favorable recommendation from the transportation committee, the issue will advance to the Mayor and Council.

Transit Manager Rob Shearman said the town would need to advertise the proposed change and hold a hearing, if one is requested.

“It should be in place by the beginning of the summer season,” he said.

The transportation committee this week also voted unanimously to forward a favorable recommendation to increase the Boardwalk tram fare from $4 to $5. That change, McGean said, would increase revenues by $94,885.

“Again, we are still sort of rebounding and we’re assuming flat ridership to do this,” he said.

Meehan said the number of trams operating along the Boardwalk would also impact revenue.

“We’re fortunate enough to have more trams out on the Boardwalk, more often,” he said. “That should increase this. That’s the goal.”

Officials noted the trams would begin its 2023 season on the first day of Springfest, which is scheduled for the first weekend in May. As part of their recommendation, committee members agreed to an implementation date of May 1.

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.