Transit commissioners: After-school bus service at end of road
Updated 6:43 am, Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The local after-school shuttle bus service, offered for more than 30 years by the Westport Transit District, will end Wednesday, the last full day of school.
The after-school shuttle routes, in prior years incorporated within the townwide mini-bus service, provided upwards of 5,000 rides this year to elementary and middle school children who attended after-school activities throughout the community, Jenninfer Johnson, co-director of the transit district, said Monday. This included rides to programs at Earthplace and religious school programs.
Last July, the Federal Transit Administration notified Westport that the service did not comply with federal regulations governing the use of publicly funded buses.
After an appeal by the town, the FTA granted Westport two six-month extensions that allowed the service to continue through the academic year while the town explored alternative arrangements. An After School Advisory Committee was formed last October. The committee solicited bids from private bus operators, but no formal action was taken, Johnson said. Bur right now, no alternatives are under consideration, she added.
Johnson and co-director, Gene Cederbaum, said they remain advocates for after-school shuttle service and hope that the town and the Board of Education will work to support an alternative service.
“Westport has benefited from a great service for over 30 years,” Johnson said. “It is a huge disappointment to see Westport lose this resource that helps kids and families.”
Both Johnson and Cederbaum, who are volunteers appointed by the Representative Town Meeting for four-year terms, said they believe “a restructured program administered by the Board of Education, in conjunction with the town and the transit district, could be self-supporting.”
“Many parents over-burdened with finding rides for their kids would be happy to pay more than a $1.50 per ride to get their kids to one of many great programs offered throughout town,” Cederbaun said.
The Westport Transit District oversees Norwalk Transit District operations of shuttle bus services in Westport, including the seven commuter rail access shuttles serving the Saugatuck and Greens Farm railroad stations, and door-to-door services for people with disabilities and seniors.
More information about the Westport Transit District can be found on the town’s website or at www.westporttransit.com