Wheels2U: New Train Station Service Rolls Out In Westport

Since COVID struck, commuter traffic is down dramatically. Train station parking lots are nearly empty.

But some folks still need Metro-North. Not all of them can — or want to — drive to Saugatuck or Greens Farms. Westport Transit has been an alternative.

But the shuttle service has not worked for everyone. The schedule did not cover all peak trains. Not everyone lives close to the routes. Supply and demand were not always in sync.

On Monday, Westport Transit introduced “Wheels 2U Westport.” The new on-demand, door-to-train platform shuttle service will operate in nearly all of Westport, and provide rides to both the Saugatuck and Greens Farms stations. Riders can be picked up at home or their place of business.

Nearly all of Westport is included in the service area.

The new service will operate weekdays, from 5:45 to 9:45 a.m., and 4 to 8 p.m.

Commuters can schedule rides shortly before their desired pick-up time through an app (click here, or search for “Wheels2U” on the Apple or Google Play store). The $2 fare can be paid via the app or a Metro-North Uniticket (rail and bus pass).

Wheels2U Westport uses Norwalk Transit’s comfortable blue vehicles and white shuttle buses. It replaces Westport Transit’s 7 commuter shuttle routes, and the temporary on-demand commuter service begun in March during COVID.

Norwalk Transit introduced Wheels2U in that city in 2018.

For more information, click here or call 203-852-0000 (choose option 3).

 

6 responses to “Wheels2U: New Train Station Service Rolls Out In Westport

  1. How much is the subsidy here, and what are the protections against Covid for riders and staff? Couldn’t the money be better spent for poor peoples’ benefits than shuttling wealthy Westport residents who have many other transportation options?

  2. This transportation service IS a benefit for “poor people” and the not rich population of our Town. It will provide a resource for day workers from other towns’–housekeepers, house cleaners, caregivers for the youngest and oldest of us. Also retail and restaurant workers, Town employees and others who either rely upon the train now, or who may now be able to take a job in town because they can rely upon the service.
    This is workforce transportation not to mention transportation for seniors and the handicapped, not all of whom may be wealthy, in addition to commuters traveling eastward and westward.
    The difference between $4.00 a day for roundtrip transportation and $20.00 plus a tip is substantial for anyone struggling to make ends meet.
    The beauty of this plan is that it provides benefits to a cross section of train riders —- not just the wealthy who are likely more inclined to use their own vehicles except in inclement weather or other rare occasions.
    As a former Chairman of the Transit District, I know whereof I speak.
    I’m confident that Westport and Norwalk Transit Districts and the subsidizer have thoroughly examined the demographics and identified the needs of the community before launching Wheels2U. I know from experience the enormous difficulty there is in securing financing for local transit services.
    Bravo and good luck to Wheels2U.

  3. Thanks, but how much is the subsidy per ride, and what percentage of the riders are low-income workers rather than multiple car owning Westport residents? As the former Chair of the Westport Transit District you should be able to answer these questions.

  4. Don’t get me wrong. I am a devoted mass transit supporter and think it’s a crime that the underfunded Metro North actually runs slower than it did 60 years ago when my parents moved our family to Westport.

    But the answer is better funding and management of the railroad, instead of diverting money to a little used shuttle that’s far more costly and polluting — with diesel vans running mostly empty — than private Ubers.

    Immediately pre-Covid, WTD reported “between 100 and 125” users of the existing railroad shuttle, with a town and state combined subsidy of about $700,000/year. In other words, between $5,600 and $7,000 per rider, per year.

    If the money were used to subsidize Ubers, it would cover 87,000 rides subsidized at $8 each (the difference between a typical $10 Uber to the station and the WTD $2 shuttle fare.)

    Assuming 3 roundtrips per week for 50 weeks, that’s enough to help 266 riders instead of 125, and — again — the subsidy should really be focused on low-income people and those unable to drive.

    While the absolute amount of the WTD subsidy is not huge, imagine if the commuters at, say, 25 Metro North stations along the line had the same clout as Westport to implement this inefficient service. That’s $17.5 million that could otherwise be used to improve the railroad for the hundreds of thousands who rely on it.

  5. How is this different from the similar service that the town made available many years ago, and which resulted in the town being sued by a local taxi company? As I recall it cost the town hundreds of thousands of dollars (maybe a million) to settle the claim.

  6. Why not make income an eligibility factor for this…?

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