Take The Bus To The Train? Here’s What Westporters Think.

Last night, the Westport Transit District released the results of last month’s survey on its services, and public satisfaction with them.

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?)

Commuters using the Westport Transit District shuttle service.

Commuters using the Westport Transit District shuttle service.

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.

westport-transit-district-logo

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.

Westport Transit District bus

 

12 responses to “Take The Bus To The Train? Here’s What Westporters Think.

  1. Chip Stephens - Staples 73

    Information Overload (IO). I am happy to see the percent of the percent of the percent of the 1/2 of percent of those Westporter’s answering enjoy their bus ride. Well meaning, a God send to that percent but very expensive subsidy on a per rider basis, not mentioned.
    But the real expense and concern is the plethora of studies, charrettes, consultant studies being done in town. Pure information overload, repetition of effort, and questionable true use of results. We are into the millions in cost for studies done for Downtown, Compo Beach, Saugatuck, Transit, and soon Plan of Conservation and Development, Longshore and more to come. Each study cost in the ten to hundreds of thousands of dollars, each touches on the others results and each delivers the same basic results in different words and pictures and pictographs.
    I am amazed when I read that it is supported by the state government so does not cost Westporters, that people do not remember who pays those state taxes to do this AND that the close to bankrupt State may not be able to deliver those funds in the very near future.
    I say offer all the current STUDY results to a Staples class and have them do a comparison, a statistical study of common critical town wide issues and then use that report for a three to five year period and stop the IO costs and craziness.

  2. Michael Calise

    Amen Chip,
    There was a time in Westport politics when elected officials and citizen participants helped run our town. Our school system was built without a study. Longshore was purchased without a study. Compo was beautifully run for many years without a study. Our transfer station was built without a study. The list is endless. All of the current acceptance of committee, consultant and study overload started in the 90’s and has taken on a life of it’s own. We need to spend 50K to decide sign placements and travel directions. Really? Study’s have become a convenient way to put a rubber stamp on Committee, Commission and Department goals without spending any political capital.

  3. This morning I had to drop off my son at CMS for early band rehearsal, and then I had to get gas. I made the enormous mistake of driving out to the Post Road to get gas, and then drive to work at the other end of town. It took me 30 minutes!!!
    I support public transportations for many reasons including to relieve traffic congestion.

  4. Bonnie Bradley

    Amen indeed, Mike and Chip. The ridiculou$ situation you address has to be one of the top ten reasons I don’t miss living in Westport one tiny bit.
    … and parking at Starbucks, on the list too.

  5. I went and was there last night what they did was nice but it cost afoot money off what we no they did not ask all the business which I am like what there put toghter bye jim we need transit and more I fell some off our N elected officials don’t want transit or cut I don’t own a car I walk take transit. I think with traffic on post road it bad pleas I ask the town no more study’s and do work please

  6. Where do I get a bus schedule?

  7. The transit problem is obvious and increasing. The solution is obvious, we simply need to invest in more buses and then ridership will come.

    Asking a person who has an “adequate” experience (they manage) a hypothetical question won’t get an intelligent answer mostly because they have been conditioned into the current environment. (think Stockholm Syndrome)

    Currently, there is no alternative. Commuting between towns by bus is nearly impossible (ask anyone who has employees coming to Westport from even East Norwalk; the buses are unreliable, requiring an extra hour each day.)

    As many other cities have shown, this is a case of “built it and they will come”. It doesn’t take a genius to think that a regular, reliable and convenient bus service would quickly get a lot of traction.

    As Chip says, these surveys are “feel good” and too much data to do anything other than create more surveys. The State is right to support this research, that is what governments should do. But there is no clear path on action from them.

    • Carol Buffinton

      Bravo Chip, Mike and Sal. I have been wending my way through only one recent traffic study. It is torturous! The Staples students could do a comparison and merging of the mutitude of studies so much faster and catch the redundancies plus incorrect and overkill solutions. What a wonderful idea. Who do we ask? I am here to push the idea to the powers that be at Staples or perhaps there are students just waiting to take a project like this on? It would certainly help the townspeople and the town immeasurably. We would be forever grateful.