Lewes Line launches, city officials hope it will ease parking problems

LEWES, Del. – Leaders in Lewes think they have come up with a solution to the city’s parking problem. Tuesday, a brand new fleet of public transportation, dubbed the Lewes Line, was launched.

Lewes Line Launches

Lewes City Council member Carolyn Jones says inspiration for the project struck when she was running for office. “One of the things I kept hearing about was parking, parking, parking,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many places we build, or how many parking spaces we have. We will never have enough parking spaces in Lewes. So, let’s go to the next step.”

The Lewes Line fleet is made up of five re-purposed DART busses, containing 14 seats and two handicap spots. In February, Lewes City Council approved a three-year lease agreement with the Delaware Transit Authority of $1 per bus. The pilot program is projected to cast about $157,000. The funding will pay for eight drivers, their uniforms, vehicle maintenance and fuel, and insurance.

The request from the city was one that DelDOT Secretary Nicole Majeski says was welcomed with open arms. “We have a very large transit fleet, and they go through their life cycle for us. These five busses were sort of towards the end of their life cycle for a regular transit route, but are perfect for down here,” she said. “We were happy when the city approached us about the partnership, and we were able to provide these busses to them. Just a little bit of paint, and putting their logo on there, and we’re ready to go.”

“The bottom line is, cars out, people in.”

Now, visitors and residents alike can pay a $1 fee to reach ten popular locations in Lewes from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. The inaugural service season will run throughout the busy summer months, when tourists flock to Lewes.

Jones says she hopes the new transportation service will make for an affordable, easy option for those hoping to avoid the hassle of finding a parking space. “The bottom line is, cars out, people in,” she said. “People can go to dinner and then find out when the last bus leaves, and they can do that by using the QR [code].”

Another benefit of the Lewes Line could be the potential of a boost for local businesses, according to Jones. “The very fact that we’re going straight down Second Street where all the businesses are – we’ll have a stop right there. I’m sure it will be successful,” she said.

Looking Ahead

The Lewes Line is a pilot program, for now. Secretary Majeski says if this summer proves to be successful, Lewes Line could serve as a model for other parts of the First State fighting similar parking battles. “I think Lewes is the perfect pilot for something like this. We are eager to work with other towns and municipalities, not just here at the beaches, but throughout the state,” she said.

This summer season will prove to be the ultimate test for the Lewes Line. City officials say once the tourism season winds down, they will reflect on what worked, and what did not. One of those key issues, is where visitors bringing their vehicles across from Cape May, New Jersey will park.

The current plan is for parking to be allowed in the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal parking lot, or at nearby Cape Henlopen High School (CHHS). Jones says parking at CHHS is on hold until July. “For the first month, we’re not going to go up to the school because they have functions going on,” she said.

Looking ahead, Jones says she is already planning to utilize the new service. And, she hopes to see others take full advantage of it, too. “It is for visitors, as well as the locals. I’m a local. I intend to use it, leave my car, and go down to the beach. It’s there for you. Use it,” said Jones.

Categories: Delaware, Local News