Ocean City Today
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Traffic, bus tweaks offered to smooth rides

Returning empty buses to loading zones problem for transit officials, Ocean City
By Katie Tabeling | Jul 13, 2017

(July 14, 2017) Visitors are packing Ocean City’s buses this summer, and resort officials want to make that ride smoother with traffic alterations and changes in the bus deployment schedule.

Transit Manager Mark Rickards told the Transportation Commission that ridership numbers are marginally up for July, and that ridership for the calendar year is up by roughly 1 percent.

As of July 4, Ocean City has seen 1.1 million fares this year. Rickards said that holiday and special event weekends helped drive patrons to the buses this summer.

“For the Air Show and Fourth of July, ridership was up four percent, and I think it went very well,” Rickards said during Tuesday’s meeting. “The only issues we had were the gridlock near South Division Street and the inlet area after the events took place.”

Buses that were headed north were blocked after Saturday’s Air Show event. For Fourth of July, transit staff scheduled two late-night deployments after the 9:30 p.m. firework show, at 9:55 and 10:25 p.m.

Rickards said that shipping buses downtown and loading them after the fireworks went smoothly, but returning to downtown was a challenge. He added that rides from the Park-N-Ride to downtown Ocean City went smoothly, thanks to police facilitating traffic across the Route 50 bridge.

Mayor Rick Meehan said he appreciated the police assistance, but wondered if other adjustments should be made.

“Perhaps we need to have a discussion with the [police] chief about the bridge, and the lights over the bridge,” he said, referring to the traffic signal at Old Inlet Isle Lane in West Ocean City. “When we have the bridge open and the lights are red, it causes some backflow. We could better facilitate the movement.”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins pointed out that the State Highway Administration would have a say, but it could also start a dialogue about Ocean City’s other entrance.

“I’ve noticed the Saturday night change over with Route 90, with people leaving all at once,” Adkins said. “The St. Martin’s Neck Road traffic light is the same. If one person is coming out of Bishopville, it ties up everybody leaving town.”

“This is a larger conversation with Maryland State Police, SHA and Ocean City Police about the traffic flows after the fireworks,” Meehan said. “The light could make a difference.”

Concerning bus deployments overall, the Transportation Commission ordered more buses to be scheduled during night compared during the day. In the past six days, there have been fewer bus deployments because the buses have been filled.

“I have noticed the last couple of days we send drivers home early, because we’re still making our deployments, especially after 4 p.m. Drivers are telling me it slows them down because families are coming in and leaving,” Rickards said.

Meehan said that while full buses are a good sign, increasing deployments would better serve customers.

“Not only are we making headway, it’s good service,” he said. “We don’t want people crammed like sardines, we want a pleasurable service.”

 

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