Maybe you’ve seen them, and thought about them.
Maybe you’ve seen them, but never given them another thought.
“They” are the men and women who work in Westport, live elsewhere, and rely on Coastal Link buses to travel back and forth.
They wait, after hours of work, by the side of the road.
They stand in the heat of summer, in rain and sleet. They stand as cars race past, sometimes spraying water from puddles. When snows piles on the sidewalk, they stand in the road.
Our lack of concern, care and protection for bus riders is a townwide embarrassment.
In May of 2009 — 2 months after launching “06880” — I wrote about this topic. Twelve years later, nothing has changed.
Finally, it might.
Last night, the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Economic Growth Subcommittee heard a presentation about the need for covered bus shelters.
3rd Selectman Melissa Kane — representing the Bus Shelter Working Group — addressed the need. They’ve worked for months with TEAM Westport, town officials and other stakeholders.
TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey says:
Bus shelter support is a portal into the issue of who belongs in Westport. That is an issue upon which TEAM Westport is squarely focused. Citizens, workers and visitors use bus transportation, and deserve protection from the elements when waiting for a bus.
Addressing this issue not only enhances the experiences of those who live, work and visit Westport, but sends a clear signal that all three truly “belong” here.
The working group has drafted language for a P&Z text amendment. They’ve reached out to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, which controls US 1 (the Post Road). State legislators Will Haskell, Jonathan Steinberg, Tony Hwang and Stephanie Thomas are all on board.
So are Westport officials, including 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Public Works director Pete Ratkiewich.
Funds would come primarily from the state, and private groups. Some town money has already been earmarked.
Covered bus shelters would provide safety and shelter. They’d include information on routes and schedules.
They’d also be visible. That, in turn, would make bus riders — the men and women who work to make Westport work — more visible too.
There are not many ideas for improvements that should get 100% support, from 100% of the town.
This is one of them.