Last month, the Board of Finance cut the Westport Transit District’s funding request. The WTD is preparing a restoration request for the Representative Town Meeting. Today, directors Marty Fox and Patsy Cimarosa lay out their case.
The Westport Transit District provides bus service with minibuses operated under subcontract with the Norwalk Transit District. It operates 7 commuter shuttle routes to and from the Saugatuck and Greens Farms rail stations, and provides daytime Door-to-Door transportation for seniors and residents with disabilities. (Information on these services, including routes, schedules and fares, can be found here: WestportTransit.org.)
Westport Transit budgeted about $575,000 in state funding for the commuter shuttles for the 2020 fiscal year starting in July. We requested an additional $238,000 from Westport to cover the remaining cost of the commuter shuttles not covered by fares.
On March 12, Westport’s Board of Finance cut the Town’s financial support for the commuter shuttles by $115,000, approximately half the Westport support necessary to operate the current shuttle routes for the coming fiscal year. (No changes were made to the Door-to-Door component of the WTD’s FY20 budget.) The Board of Finance affirmed its decision to cut the commuter shuttle funding at its April 3 meeting.
Consistent with the provisions of the Town Charter, the Westport Transit District will ask the Representative Town Meeting to restore the $115,000 in town funding at the RTM’s May 6 meeting. Should the cut not be restored, it’s likely that most or all of the town’s commuter shuttle service would be eliminated by the end of the calendar year – and Westport would lose over $500,000 of state support for the commuter shuttles. (Door-to-Door services will not be affected.)
The Transit District’s April 3rd presentation to the Board of Finance sets out why we asked the Board of Finance to restore the $115,000 it cut from Westport’s funding of the commuter shuttles.
These are also the basis for the WTD’s request to the RTM to restore the full town funding of this community service. Among the reasons is the strong support for fully funding the commuter shuttles expressed by Westport residents in the 2018 townwide survey on Westport’s bus services, completed by 1,700 residents.
More detailed information about the Westport Transit District’s operations, current initiatives, and findings of the 2018 Town-wide survey can be found in the WTD’s March 12 presentation to the Board of Finance.
The RTM Transit Committee meets this Wednesday (April 24). The RTM Finance Committee meeting — when the budget restoration request will be discussed — is this Thursday (April 25).
Westport residents can make their opinion about the future of the commuter shuttles known by contacting RTM members at RTMMailingList@westportct.gov, and speaking at the May 6 RTM meeting.