Greyhounds leave town

Bethany Beach residents Monte and Cheryl Wisbrock were for many years the local contacts for Greyhound bus tickets in “downtown” Bethany Beach. They gave it up when they moved their business (Bethany & Resort Rental Service) to the Hickman Beach Plaza, just south of town.

But it took Greyhound a while to remove their names from the call list — and anyway, because the Wisbrocks rent bicycles, they interact with a higher-than-average number of foreign exchange students.

Many of these students don’t have cars, or in some cases, drivers’ licenses — it’s a demographic that relies disproportionately on public transportation.

So the Wisbrocks follow transportation issues more closely than some — and were regretful to report that Greyhound was about to discontinue bus service in Bethany Beach (and Rehoboth Beach), effective Sept. 5.

Following up on an article they’d read in the Cape Gazette, the Wisbrocks called Greyhound and confirmed that the local public transportation option had been axed for economic reasons. Whether those services will return next summer remains to be seen.

However, at least for the winter, people trying to reach Washington, D.C. or New York will have to make their way to either downtown Ocean City, Md. or Dover, the Wisbrocks pointed out.

“This makes it tough for the European students, or older people who can’t drive,” Monte pointed out. “I’d imagine there’s going to be an awful lot of people begging for rides.”

He remembered one elderly lady, in her 90s, who used to take the Greyhound from the D.C. area, once a month, for a weekend at her house in Bethany.

The loss of bus service would certainly impact folks like her, Wisbrock pointed out.

There are still some Delaware Area Regional Transit (DART) options, but they’re few and far between. According to DART spokesman Mike Williams, most state-run public transportation to the resort area shuts down on Labor Day, too.

And Williams admitted the loss of the Greyhound option wouldn’t be a factor in increased state services. “We have expanded service to the resort area greatly in the past few years — but those services are based on ridership,” he said. “And there’s still no great call to go from Dover to the beach in the middle of winter.”

At any rate, he said most DART routes centered on community hubs, for transportation in and around a city or large town — that’s why service was so limited in still-rural Sussex County (especially, south of Georgetown).

Some DART routes will run weekends for another couple weeks, beyond Labor Day, and Williams said Route 303 (Dover/Georgetown) would continue year-round, without the late night stops.

Other than that, however, he said it was pretty limited around Sussex County.

Wisbrock noted community public transportation success with the Bethany Beach Trolley, and suggested it would be nice if the state took a similarly supportive stance.

However, with the current budget troubles at the Delaware Department of Transportation, he wasn’t overly optimistic. “We’ll just have to wait it out, and see if something else pops up,” Wisbrock concluded.