Ocean City Today

Council wants more options, but Jeeps look good for trams

By Katie Tabeling | Nov 30, 2017
Courtesy of: Hal Adkins

(Dec. 1, 2017) The Ocean City Council officially scrapped the two tram bids it had on the table this week, and will go back to the market to replace the aging fleet by summer 2019 at the latest.

Although city officials informally agreed that it would be less expensive to buy new vehicles, instead of the specialized motor cabs, to pull the passenger cars, it’s undecided at this point what car will do the job.

Public Works Director Hal Adkins suggested purchasing two Jeep Wranglers and to take two motor cars out of circulation next summer. That way, all eight trams would be operational and the two engines could be “cannibalized” for parts.

“We used Jeeps in 1991, and there were no operational issues. We’re currently running one because a gas engine caught on fire and melted two years ago,” Adkins said. “Let’s take the pressure off and consider buying a fleet, and re-bid out for the trailer cars.”

Custom-made Trailer cars would cost $60,000, while another gas engine cab chassis would cost $200,000. Jeep Wranglers, on the other hand, are estimated to cost $50,000 apiece. That price includes customizations needed to pull the passenger cart.

If the council decides to go with Jeep Wranglers, that would bring down the overall tram replacement cost from a maximum $4 million to $1 million.

However, some councilmembers wanted more discussion before making a decision.

“I’d hope we wait until August before we purchase any more Jeeps,” Councilman Dennis Dare said. “We need to run them a full season and make sure there’s no unforeseen issues before committing to a full fleet.”

Councilman Wayne Hartman was enthusiastic at first about making the switch, especially since the Jeeps could be repurposed for Beach Patrol use. Later, however, he pointed out that the council could buy a different vehicle with four-wheel drive that would suit both the Boardwalk and the beach.

“We can have the beachy Jeep at $50,000, but if you say we can have a Ford Explorer at $25,000, you have my attention,” he said to Adkins. “If you give us options, we can make decisions.

Hartman also took time to criticize the commission system, as he had no input until recently on the new trams.

“I hate it when things go to commissions, because we don’t have a chance to vet them before we get one option,” he said.

The council voted to re-bid the trams, and to continue the discussion during the Dec. 4 regular session.

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