Ocean City’s boardwalk, with its tram.
If you live in New York, Philadelphia, or Boston, you can hop onto a commuter rail train any summer weekend and travel to the beach. But not if you live in DC. Here we have no train, and the buses are impractical and expensive.
Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority recently launched its Cape Flyer service, from Boston South Station to Cape Cod. A round trip ticket to Hyannis is $35.
New Jersey Transit runs trains from Philadelphia 30th Street Station to Atlantic City for $20 round trip, and from New York Penn Station to the Jersey Shore for $25 round trip. New Yorkers can also take Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Montauk for about $40 round trip.
For DC, there is no train, much less an affordable one. There are no tracks directly between DC and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The only track connection is at the very top of Chesapeake Bay, near Wilmington, DE. Amtrak does offer service to Ocean City, but you have to connect to an Amtrak bus at BWI, and it’s $120 for a round trip.
Greyhound also runs buses from DC to Ocean City, but it’s $50-$100 per round trip, depending on how far in advance you buy tickets online.
Building a new rail bridge across Chesapeake Bay is probably not practical. Even if it were, that’s surely not the top priority for limited transit funding. But why not better bus service? Ocean City is a natural transit destination; it’s compact and urban, at least near the boardwalk.
As summer rolls by and Washingtonians head out for weekend jaunts to the beach, how many of us wish we didn’t have to rent a car to get there?