OCEAN CITY — The pilot program that 90-year-old Bob Melvin fought so hard to happen is ready to launch.
On Tuesday, Public Works Director Hal Adkins informed the Mayor and City Council that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the town of Ocean City and Shore Transit in regards to the door-to-door service provided to elderly and disabled residents of Ocean City who are eligible to use the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) bus service has been completed, signed and asked permission to commence with the program council had previously approved.
“We want to give this program the best chance possible to succeed,” said Adkins. “You had voted to operate this pilot program until April 1, whereas I would be coming back to you sometime in late March with information about how the service is working, and how often the service is being used.”
In a nutshell, Shore Transit agreed to allow Ocean City to extend its ADA bus service to the corporate limits of Berlin for medical pick-ups and drop-offs. In the past, Ocean City residents had to switch from the town’s ADA bus service at the city limits to a Shore Transit bus for the duration of the trip, usually causing multi-hour trips and forcing users to have to pay two rider fees. Shore Transit didn’t come into Ocean City for pick-ups or drop-offs as it was deemed to be a replication of services since Ocean City has its own ADA on-island service.
As per this agreement, however, Ocean City’s elderly and handicapped residents will now be able to get a door-to-door ride to the doctor’s office in Berlin in a much more prompt and cost efficient manner, as it will cost $5 each way to use the service.
“I’m so very happy that my years of work on this are finally coming to fruition,” said Melvin, “and I’m happy that I finally got the two of them [the town and Shore Transit] to work together for a change.”
Melvin said that his efforts to find a backer to help riders who need help paying for their trips to the hospital is close to being completed as well. Both Melvin and Adkins hinted that Atlantic General Hospital has expressed interest in being a part of a venture that would provide financial aid to ADA eligible residents of Ocean City who use the new bus system.
In addition, since Shore Transit gets funding to operate that eight-mile stretch of road, part of the MOU between the town and Shore Transit reads that the town will be reimbursed $32 per round trip ride.
The service will be available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.