[OPINION] Transit Director: Restore Funding For Wheels2U

It happens every year: the Westport Transit District pleads for funds.

Peter Gold has 2 roles: He’s the WTD director, and an elected Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member from District 5. He writes:

Westport is in danger of losing the Wheels2U shuttle yet again.

In what has become an annual rite of spring, the Board of Finance voted at its March meeting to eliminate all funding for Wheels2U, the Westport Transit District’s door-to-train station on-demand commuter shuttle.

This will effectively shut down the service as of June 30, 2023. (The door to door service for the elderly and persons with disabilities will not be affected.)


We need the public’s help to keep the shuttle alive.

The Transit Committee and RTM Finance Committee meet on April 17 and April 26 respectively. They will make recommendations to the full RTM regarding the budget for Wheels2U.

The full RTM meets May 1 to vote on restoring funding to keep the shuttle running for another year.

Please send an email to the RTM (RTM-DL@Westportct.gov) between now and the end of April urging them to restore the budget, and keep the shuttle alive. All emails sent to this address will also go to members of the RTM Transit and Finance Committees.

Wheels2U provided over 21,100 rides to and from Westport’s 2 train stations to more than 1,170 people since the start of the current fiscal year on July 1, 2022. There were over 2,780 rides to and from Westport’s stations in March alone.

Wheels2U supports Westport residents and businesses. It aids economic development by providing a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way for Westport commuters, reverse commuters and others to link their homes, their employers and downtown to the train stations. By sharing your stories of how useful the service has been to you, we can help to save the shuttle service.

It takes 70% of the RTM members present and voting at a meeting to override the Board of Finance and restore the funding for Wheels2U. Every bit of support matters.

Information about Wheels2U, its cost, the benefits it currently provides to riders and the town as a whole, and what it could become if it’s allowed to continue and grow can be found by clicking this link.

15 responses to “[OPINION] Transit Director: Restore Funding For Wheels2U

  1. Confusing: the service has so many riders and is in such demand that it’s about to go out of business?
    Is it not UNDERUSAGE and LACK of demand that is tanking Wheel2U?

  2. Michael Mossman

    What is the per ride cost of a Wheels2U trip at the current budget allocation and level of ridership?

  3. The cost per ride is about $40. Over 80% of the rides are single riders on a 16 person bus.

  4. The data shows that the number of rides on the commuter service has decreased from 106,072 rides in 2007 to 18,146 in 2022. The subsidy from the State and the Town each year has been approx. $ 600K per in total, or about $ 9 million over the same 15 year period.

  5. I think it’s time we stop looking at public transportation in profit and loss terms. Either we are a town which provides a public transportation option or we are not. Given how progressive our town is with respect to the arts, the environment, education, recognizing all members of our community, etc., I’d say we want to be a town which provides a public transportation option. If others agree, then let’s start looking at public transportation as a cost of doing business and figure out how to tweak current options to encourage more ridership.

  6. Michael Calise

    public transportation in most iterations is a prime example of dysfunctional government.

  7. I had attended the board meeting to the board of finance in regards the rider ship of the Wheels2U. Even though I see the importance of the service. The data provided at that presentation which showed that most of the time only 1 or two people are on the bus. Since the utilization it is low. Technically, the town losses money for each. I believe conversation we should be having is about alternatives solutions that works for the town of westport while spending money wisely. Cause what was presented looked really bad by overlooking this is hold us back as a town in finding a better alternative.

  8. Can’t do everything and this shuttle should be terminated. Way too much money for only 1,100 of the town’s 26,000 citizens to benefit. It’s also very inefficient because most of the rides as reported are for one rider at a time. For those arguing this is a “cost of doing business” for Westport, this is exactly the logic that creates deficits and/or takes limited resources from more deserving, higher ROI type town investments. Easy to argue for a one-off pet project, but this decision is an easy one to make, albeit a difficult one for some to absorb.

  9. Elisabeth Keane

    Is there a reason why this service is only to and from train station? Does something prevent these shuttles from taking people to/from Main Street and Library and to other shopping areas along the Post Road? Surely that would be a benefit while increasing revenue for the service. And by the way, if that alleged perceived “improvement” to Harder Parking removes parking spaces, might not having the shuttle service be a plus?

  10. Jennifer Johnson

    The RTM needs to stop this year-in-year out madness.  The RTM should uphold the Board of Finance’s decision to de-fund the grossly inefficient W2U commuter service, and go one step further and vote to eliminate the Westport Transit District, an entity which no longer serves any useful purpose.

    W2U is basically a subsidized Uber service in which empty buses deliver Westport resident private rides to their doorsteps.  It’s not green (these empty buses are bigger than any car) and it’s not cost-effective. Frankly, its not public transit.  

    There are some basic steps to get public transit back on track:  (1) The RTM should not be managing the town’s transportation needs – that’s a job for the First Selectman not a legislative committee ; (2) bring back the fixed-route bus service that previously served multiple neighborhoods and downtown (regularly connecting to the Coastal Link); (3) Stop perpetuating the inefficient waste of tax dollars by forcing the state to fund seven different transit districts – all in the same southwestern corner of our state.  

    Over the past ten years in which we have been replaying this annual funding charade, commuter ridership has plummeted from over 63,500 rides per year to less than 22,000 all while costing tax payers millions of dollars. Clearly the status quo is not working.  

    It’s time for Westport to be a leader again in transit and non-car mobility.   We need our elected leaders to get us moving toward a better transit future.  Urge your RTM Representative to (1) vote  ‘NO to restoring funding for the inefficient W2U commuter service and (2) eliminate the current Westport Transit District as an administrative entity. And then demand that our Town’s executive leaders assume the role of managing our town’s transit needs so Westport can finally move forward.

    – Jennifer Johnson
    Former Westport Transit District Director

    • facts like we need more buses that are actually buses all we have is basically nothing so u can’t get around with no car without walking a lot like bruh

      sorry my website doesn’t work people deleted it for some reason idk why

  11. Bill Strittmatter

    Sounds like it might be a lot cheaper to cut a deal with Uber to subsidize rides if someone really thinks using taxpayer money for this purpose makes sense.

  12. yeah I agree with this statement wheels 2u is cool but bro MORE BUSES

    sorry my website doesn’t work, we are trying to fix that

Leave a Reply