Committee OKs $87,500 more for senior transit
Updated 3:35 pm, Friday, December 2, 2016
WESTPORT — An extra $87,500 expenditure to continue running transportation for seniors and the disabled was unanimously recommended by the RTM’s Transit and Human Services committees on Monday.
Because of faulty accounting by the Norwalk Transit District, the entity that oversees Westport’s transportation, the costs of operating both the Door-to-Door service (for seniors and the disabled) and the commuter shuttle (which runs on a fixed route and is open to all) were $160,000 more than initially thought.
Transit Director Marty Fox eliminated two Door-to-Door vehicles and increased fares, resulting in a saving of $73,100. The fare increase for the shuttle will go from $1.50 to $1.75 and will jump from $3 to $3.50 for Door-to-Door, Fox said. Even with the savings, the town still needs the $87,500 to continue operating services.
The Door-to-Door service offers passengers the ability to schedule a pickup at their home and be taken to their destination. Sarah Heath, director of Human Services, said most users hear about the service from their doctors or after a hospital discharge. Required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, riders must complete an eligibility request form and go through an interview at the Norwalk Transit District.
Because of the high costs associated with maintaining these services, Fox has looked into partnering with cab companies or ride-sharing applications like Uber.
RTM member Jennifer Johnson clarified with Fox that he intends to move away from the Norwalk Transit District toward the control of the town.
Johnson said this is bad news because the town will lose a “great system” that was subsidized. For approximately every dollar Westport puts into the commuter shuttle, it receives around $3 in grant money from the state. On the other hand, Johnson said it’s a good step because it will provide Westport residents with a more flexible and cheaper option.
The RTM will vote on the appropriation on Tuesday.