Smarting from a $60,000 cut in its 2012-13 funding by the Board of Finance, the Norwalk Transit District won backing from the Representative Town Meeting's Finance and Transit committees Wednesday night, as both panels voted unanimously to recommend overturning the finance board's decision.

If approved next month by the full RTM, the committees' recommendation would return the town's contribution next fiscal year to the transit district budget to approximately $248,000, as proposed by First Selectman Gordon Joseloff.

"You're putting us in a death spiral, in my opinion," said Dick Lowenstein, District 5, a Transit Committee member. "I really feel the RTM has to overturn to give the transit district a chance to regroup and make some progression."

Jim Ross, who takes the S4 bus route to the Saugatuck Metro-North train station, expressed support for the committees' votes.

"This service is a great service. It has been a great service every year that we've had it," he said. "We are not sipping champagne and eating caviar on this bus. For most of these people, they need the service. They need it."

The Board of Finance in March unanimously approved an approximately $114,000 reduction to Joseloff's proposed allocation for the transit district, which operates several commuter bus routes, door-to-door service for senior citizens and disabled riders, as well as after-school bus lines in Westport.

Many commuters and RTM members reacted angrily to the $114,000 budget cut. Backed by Joseloff, transit district officials returned to the finance board last week to seek a full restoration of the lost funds. The finance board instead approved a compromise measure that would shrink the transit district's budget cut to $60,000 for the fiscal year running through May 2013.

The Norwalk Transit District will need at least 70 percent of the full RTM to secure final approval of the $60,000 restoration for the 2012-13 budget. The RTM is scheduled to begin its final round of budget hearings on Monday, May 7.

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