OCEAN CITY – Officials say community members have until April 10 to request a hearing on a proposed bus fare increase.
In a meeting of the Ocean City Transportation Committee Tuesday, Transit Manager Rob Shearman presented members with the timeline for increasing bus and tram fares. With an implementation date of May 1, he said community members have until April 10 to submit a public hearing request relating to bus fare changes.
“If that public hearing is requested, we will notify the council and intend to hold that hearing on the April 17, 6 p.m. meeting of the Mayor and City Council,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Mayor and Council had before them favorable recommendations from the transportation committee to raise the town’s bus and tram fares by $1. Officials say the increase will allow the town to cover the increasing costs associated with both operations.
“Considering the increase in expenses and fuel and the drivers and the cost of providing the service, we felt that these recommendations were warranted,” Mayor Rick Meehan, committee liaison, said at the time.
Officials say increasing the tram fare from $4 to $5 would result in additional revenues of $94,885, while increasing the bus fare from $3 to $4 would result in additional revenues of $390,545.
At the recommendation of the committee, the council voted 5-1 to increase bus and tram fares by $1, with an implementation date of May 1.
“Obviously the tram fare increase has been approved by the council and there’s no additional steps we need to take other than signage,” Shearman told committee members this week. “So that’s on target for a May 1 rollout.”
Shearman noted, however, that the transportation department had contacted the Maryland Transit Administration regarding the town’s intentions to increase the bus fare and its efforts to solicit public comments by April 10.
“That’s the deadline,” Public Works Director Hal Adkins added. “If we receive nothing in writing by that date, at that time, there’s no need for a public hearing.”
Shearman said notices have been posted online, in print and at bus shelters and stations. Should a public hearing be requested, he said the town would still have time to make any necessary changes before the start of the summer season.
“That still gives us a couple weeks to update signage and be ready to roll out the May 1 start date,” he explained.
The committee this week also reviewed the transportation department’s recruitment efforts for bus and tram drivers. Shearman said that while the department was ahead on tram driver recruitment, it lagged in ticket seller applications.
“It’s a little bit of an easier position to hire and train for someone without experience,” he added.