By Donald Wittkowski
Along with buying their hoagies, soft pretzels and smoothies, Wawa customers will be able to do something else this summer – catch a shuttle to Sea Isle City.
The Wawa store on Route 9 in Ocean View is going to be one of the stops for new shuttle service connecting the Ocean View Resort campground with Sea Isle starting July 1 and running through Aug. 14, it was announced Monday.
Operated by the Sea Isle Jitney Association, the 13-passenger shuttles will run on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $2 one way, or $4 round trip.
Having a shuttle stop at a busy Wawa store is seen as a big boost for the Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce’s campaign to bring more visitors to town to spend their money at the city’s bars, restaurants and retail shops.
The Monday-through-Wednesday schedule was selected for the shuttle’s first summer of operation because business normally is slower in Sea Isle early in the week before picking up on the weekends.
The shuttle is seen as a way of drawing campers from the nearby Ocean View Resort into Sea Isle to help fill in the gaps in business early in the week. Ocean View Resort is the largest campground in New Jersey and offers a large potential pool of customers for Sea Isle’s business community.
Ocean View Resort has as many as 3,500 campers and 700 full-time families staying there during the height of the busy summer vacation season, owner Scott Turner said in an earlier interview.
The shuttle will save campground guests from the hassles of driving to Sea Isle, hunting for parking and possibly fighting traffic on the way back to Ocean View Resort in the summer tourism season.
The Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce and Ocean View Resort are kicking in $3,000 each to subsidize the shuttle service, which was originally announced in May. However, the new stop at the Wawa store in Ocean View was announced Monday.
Dave Berry, president of the Jitney Association, said Wawa contacted him about the possibility of being added as a stop after hearing of the campground shuttle.
“They’re all in because they know they’re going to get extra business from customers on their way home,” Berry said of the benefits to Wawa.
He noted it is not hard to imagine the shuttle passengers asking the jitney drivers, “Can you wait for us until we grab a sandwich?”
The shuttle will originate at the front entrance to the Ocean View Resort on Route 9 in Dennis Township. The next stop will be at the Wawa. Shuttle riders should be aware that there will be no areas at Wawa set aside for them to park their cars.
When it arrives in Sea Isle, the shuttle will stop at the city’s Welcome Center on John F. Kennedy Boulevard, close to the restaurants and other attractions in the historic Fish Alley neighborhood.
There will be another stop in the downtown business district on JFK Boulevard. Once they are in town, shuttle riders will be able to connect to other jitney routes around Sea Isle or to neighboring Strathmere.
The Chamber of Commerce and the Jitney Association hope to build up the shuttle service in coming years by adding more campgrounds.
“Next season, I’m sure other campgrounds will join the shuttle,” Berry said.
There were discussions with other campgrounds about the possibility of running the shuttles on a Thursday-through-Sunday schedule this summer. Those campgrounds, however, did not want to kick in the $5,000 subsidy they would have each had to pay to operate shuttles on the weekends.