People all over Lewes, join hands, hop on the Lewes Line, the Lewes Line.
The Lewes Line, born out of an idea from Lewes Councilwoman Carolyn Jones, will begin operations Monday, May 23, as five vehicles will be hitting the roadways ready to pick up riders looking for a lift around the First Town in the First State.
When Jones first joined council in 2021, she said that Lewes does not need more parking; Lewes needs to move people. Agreeing with her was 2021 newcomer Khalil Saliba, who was elected alongside Jones. Both council members met with City Manager Ann Marie Townshend and Assistant City Manager Ellen Loraine McCabe and, through research, discovered that DART rents retired transit buses to communities for $1.
Offering public transportation has been discussed by the city since she has been employed, Townshend said, but the costs prohibited anything from coming to fruition. Access to the retired DART buses for such a low cost is what allowed the Lewes Line plan to materialize, and launching it as a pilot program will allow the city to manage the project more thoroughly. The structure of a pilot program will allow the city to gather useful feedback from passengers and customers, allowing the city to make adjustments to improve the service.
Buses will not operate on DelDOT roads, there are a total of nine stops, with Cape Henlopen becoming a satellite area when available. Riders are able to track the location of the buses and find information on the stops by downloading the app TransLoc or by going to transloc.com. The buses will carry 14 total passengers, with 12 seats and two spots for wheelchairs available. Stops will be at the Lewes library, Lewes Trailhead, Lloyd’s Market, George H.P. Smith Park, Second and Market streets, Otis Smith Park, Savannah Beach, Johnnie Walker Beach and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal.
Live GPS is an important component in acquiring the buses, Townshend said, but when Lewes received the fleet, they had all been stripped of cameras and GPS tracking. Jones and McCabe worked with members of the business community, Kinetic in particular, to develop GPS tracking and camera system for the buses.
Operating costs after acquiring the cameras and GPS for the buses is $157,000 for the 2022 season – $20,000 will be covered by sponsorships. Sponsors will be featured on the inside of the buses, while the outside of the buses will remain adorned with the Lewes Line logo.
Rides will cost $1 and tickets can be purchased on the bus, at city hall, and possibly at the parking enforcement building at Savannah Beach. Discount cards offering 12 rides for $10 will be available for purchase by individuals or employers wishing to buy rides to help their employees get into town without the hassle of parking. Rack cards will also be available for purchase by businesses that want to make passes available for purchase in their stores.
The Lewes Line will run through Sept. 30. If there is high demand for the service at the end of September, the city may extend the program, but officials are evaluating the success of the program as the season goes on. There is a QR code on the back of each seat to give riders a chance to weigh in on their experience. For more information about the Lewes Line, go to ci.lewes.de.us.