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Sunday, July 21, 2024

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Tram Cars Ease the Walk In Wildwood

 

By Lauren Suit

As Cape May County’s allure continues to attract countless thousands of vacationers, espe-cially during summer, one fact become brutally apparent: There’s gridlock in vacationland.
In a summer series, the news staff of the Cape May County Herald will present a variety of alternative transportation methods. All those stories will focus on one end: How to re-duce traffic, even if only a few cars at a time.
Each car off the road means gasoline saved. Each gallon of gas saved translates into a saving to the driver, and an even greater saving to the Earth, which is pressed to provide more re-sources from a dwindling supply.
Tram Cars: A Fun Alternative
You can’t walk too far along the famous boards in Wildwood without hearing the familiar phrase, “Watch the tram car, please.”
The cars, which cruise along the two-mile walk from northern to southern tip at a top speed of five mph, are a welcome sight to weary walkers.
“After a long night on the rides with the kids, it is nice to get a ride back to the car,” said Jim Baldon as his three-year old daughter and five year-old son hopped a ride on the tram.
The kids kept chattering about being able to hear, “the lady” and burst into giggles when the driver pressed the button and “watch the tram car, please” burst through the speakers.
If you ever wondered who was the person behind the voice of the tram car, that would be Floss Stingel, a North Wildwood resident. Stingel, now 67, reportedly made the record-ing in 1971.
The cars, painted in “happy blue” and “sunburst yellow,” don’t only offer relief to vaca-tioners, some employees of the boardwalk shops often forgo their bikes in favor of a tram car ride to and from work.
“Sometimes its nice to get driven to work,” said Katarina Molakov, an international stu-dent spending her summer working at a boardwalk restaurant. “Especially when working long hours on your feet.”
“The fare is worth it on rainy days,” she added.
Anyone familiar with the ride can attest to being able to feel every bump and dip. But starting this summer, at least one of those trams will offer a smoother ride.
The first new tram in 44 years, commissioned from Rampage Trailer Co., will still have the same nostalgic look but the frame will be cushioned with rubber, the tires will be changed from steel-belted to trailer tires and the foam density in the seats will be increased.
Of the eight tram cars, each with four passenger trailers, currently in use, five were built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and three were built in 1963.
With one tram car carrying about 40 people, an estimated 500,000 people ride the tram car each year.
• Rate: $2 per person each way
• Hours: 11 a.m. to 12 midnight
• Season: Easter weekend to the end of September
Contact Suit at: (609) 886-8600 ext. 25 or lsuit@cmcherald.com

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