Faced with an overwhelmingly negative response to a recent citizen survey, it appears a proposed neighborhood shuttle service in Rehoboth Beach will not happen this summer.
During a commissioner workshop in January, Jolly Trolley Operations Manager Lydia Hastings proposed a neighborhood shuttle service that would operate daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., from Memorial Day to Labor Day. As proposed, the fixed route had 13 stops, beginning at the Bandstand. The estimated cost of operation was $1,000 a day, to be paid by the city.
Soon after the meeting, the city put up a survey on MindMixer, a community engagement platform used by city officials. People were asked if they were in favor of the proposal, the $1,000-a-day cost and the idea of a narrated tour. Of the 379 surveys submitted, more than 310 responses answered, “No,” for all three questions.
The survey also asked two open-ended questions – would respondents use the shuttle and to share general thoughts. A significant majority of the responses to those questions were no and that it was a bad idea.
In an email Feb. 12, Mayor Paul Kuhns said he was surprised by the response and that it would certainly affect the discussion and decision moving forward. Commissioners will be spending more time discussing the idea in the coming months, but operating the shuttle service is doubtful for next year, he said.
“I believe the proposal would lessen traffic and parking issues; however, this is why we ran the survey – to help formulate our planning and budget priorities,” said Kuhns.
According to the survey’s topic summary report, the participation rate was 1,710 percent higher than average. There’s no real way to tell, but 288 of survey takers said they lived within city limits.
Kuhns said he thought the increased rate was due to increased citizen questions on a multitude of logistic and budget concerns.
The summary report also shows not one person under the age of 55 responded to the survey. Kuhns said the average age of a MindMixer participant in Reheoboth is 57 years old, which he said is a relatively accurate depiction of community demographics.
Rehoboth’s budget runs April 1 to March 31. Rehoboth commissioners are expected to resume budget discussions Friday, Feb. 21, for Fiscal Year 2020-21.