$87,500 approved for Door-to-Door transit services
WESTPORT — Door-to-Door transportation services for the disabled and seniors will continue running through 2017 after the Board of Finance unanimously approved $87,500.
The need for such funding stems from an accounting error found earlier this summer. Officials of the Norwalk Transit District, which provides drivers and operators for Westport residents with disabilities and seniors, realized the Door-to-Door services it provides the town cost $185,400 more than expected.
Despite the allocated $87,500, Westport had to pursue other avenues to make of the difference. The decrease in the cost for the Fixed Route shuttle, a separate service from Door-to-Door that has set bus routes and times of arrival and departure, saved the town some money. However, more was needed and the decision was made to make changes to the Fixed Route service, as well. Part of Westport Transit Director Marty Fox’s proposed solution includes a $19,300 cut to commuter shuttle funding and a reduction in several commuter shuttle trips, resulting in an additional $4,000 in savings.
Four Fixed Route trips are proposed to be eliminated: the 6:08 a.m. S4 and the 7:55 a.m. S2, S3 and S4. There are 74 total trips a week, according to Fox.
“We may proceed as planned now and get public comment in the next month or two, or we may delay this decision about the four shuttle runs until such time as we’ve gotten results of our survey, which we expect to have in December, and we develop a more comprehensive plan for the Westport Transit District,” Fox said.
However, unlike the Door-to-Door services, which are funded entirely by Westport, the Fixed Route service is funded by federal and state grant money. For every dollar the town puts toward the Fixed Route service, Westport receives between two and three dollars in operating grants. Accordingly, the $23,300 in cuts could result in close to $70,000 in squandered grant money.
“I request that you look into that further because that does translate into more money that were losing from federal grant dollars for transportation,” Jennifer Johnson, RTM District 9, said.
Westport resident Sal Liccione advocated for keeping the $4,000 expenditure for the routes, mirroring Johnson’s argument for lost grant money.