It’s a mixed picture, for sure.
According to Julien Beresford of Beresford Research, who explained the numbers last night at Town Hall, 1539 surveys were collected. Thirty-nine were from employees living outside of Westport. They were excluded from the analysis — so the results are based on exactly 1,500 answers.
The survey provides an interesting snapshot of commuting patterns.
Apart from train riders, only 21% of other Westporters commute more than 10 miles to work.
Of those whose commute is longer than 10 miles, 63% ride Metro-North. Another 34% drive their own car. That leaves only 2% to take the Coastal Link bus, 1% who carpool, and 1% who answered “other.” (Bike? Uber? Boat?)
Respondents are generally aware of the scheduled bus service to and from Westport’s train stations (81%), but much less so for door-to-door on-request bus service for seniors (28%) and for those with disabilities (25%).
Just under half of train riders (47%) have considered taking the bus to the train stations. Of those who have “considered” it, 66% have actually done so.
68% of bus riders are “strongly satisfied” with the service. Another 26% are “somewhat satisfied.” That’s 94% of all bus riders, in total.
The top 5 reasons for riding the bus:
- The cost is reasonable (94%)
- The scheduled bus service meets my morning train (67%)
- Contributes to reducing traffic congestion (59%)
- I don’t have to drive (57%)
- The scheduled bus service meets my evening train (57%)
But 38% of bus riders dislike riding it, because buses meet only certain trains. Another 35% say that “sometimes the bus isn’t available when I need it.”
Nearly 3/5ths (57%) of train riders who do not take the bus believe one of the routes could benefit them.
Just over half of train riders (53%) are aware of free parking at the Imperial Avenue pickup/dropoff lot. Learning about free parking interests 28% of those who were previously unaware of it. 22% would be more likely to try it if the bus were also free.
Of the 73% who are “not at all likely” to try the Imperial lot — and the 15% and 9% “slightly” or “moderately” likely, respectively — the overwhelming reasons were “it takes less time to drive myself” (68%) and “don’t want to drive, then take bus/train” (53%).
As for public bus service: It’s not a major reason for new residents to move to Westport. The top reasons 5 cited (and remember, this was a commuter survey):
- Compo Beach (82%)
- Train service to New York City (76%)
- Public school system (72%)
- Distance to New York City (54%)
- Specific property purchased/rented (46%)
Regarding the value of low-cost bus service to the community, 63% feel that service is “quite” or “extremely” important for persons with disabilities. Support is lower — just 43% — for seniors.
Finally, 59% agree that the commuter bus service should be supported by town funds. 29% disagree.
1,500 Westporters have spoken. To add your voice, click “Comments” below.