Sea Witch shows better public transportation needed
For years, Sea Witch has drawn 100,000 people and more to Rehoboth Beach, and every year, traffic and parking are such a nightmare, people now park a car on Rehoboth Avenue days ahead of time to ensure they get a prime spot – which of course means they will drive a second car into town on parade day.
This year, thousands of people heeded suggestions and instead of driving, decided to take the bus.
One might expect transportation planners would be ready to show off on the region’s busiest travel day of the year, armed with plans to serve thousands of families and friends giving public transportation a try.
Lewes Transportation Center parking lot quickly filled to capacity, which should have signaled the need for more buses – and for traffic control to direct cars elsewhere, anywhere parking could be found.
With no place to park and long lines waiting for buses, many gave up on public transportation altogether and drove to Rehoboth to find the park & ride lot was also full.
Transportation officials have recognized their failure and have even promised free transportation for next year’s Sea Witch parade. (See letter.)
But how many people have already decided bus transportation does not work?
Transportation officials are fond of saying they are investing $1 billion in transportation infrastructure in Sussex County over the next six years, welcome funding that should improve dangerous intersections and ease congestion. But with thousands of new housing units and lots of older residents already on the way, public transportation must play a critical role in all future plans.
The Sea Witch bus blunder is emblematic of the failure of state transportation officials to sufficiently invest in agile, reliable public transportation in Sussex – not just for our biggest festival but throughout the year.
Beyond that, when Sussex officials approve new housing developments, plan for workforce housing or locate new businesses, requiring expanded and improved public transportation across Sussex County must be a key part of the decisions.