Tag Archives: Gene Cedarbaum

Remembering Gene Cedarbaum

Quietly, but for decades, Gene Cedarbaum was an important force in Westport life. He died yesterday, at 77.

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Gene Cedarbaum

Gene’s contributions were broad and varied. He served on the Board of Education, Representative Town Meeting, Citizens Transit Committee, Commission on Senior Services, Westport Transit District, and as a justice of the peace. He was the town’s fair housing agent too.

He was a board member of United Way, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Westport Arts Center, Westport Historical Society and Temple Israel. He also served in the House of Delegates of the Connecticut Bar Association. He helped formed and represented A Better Chance of Westport.

Gene was a member of the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club. Active in Democratic town politics, he served as a delegate to state conventions

He was a graduate of New York University, where he was elected student body president, and Columbia University School of Law. He started his legal career as an Army lawyer. He moved with his family to Westport, and entered private law practice in 1973

He is survived by his wife Carol, his children Mark and Deborah Cederbaum Jones, and grandchildren

A service for Gene is set for tomorrow (Monday, January 20, 1 p.m., Temple Israel. Friends are invited to the family home, 57 Partrick Road, on Monday and Tuesday (4 to 8 p.m).

Trains Suck, But Transit District Ridership Soars

It’s one bit of good news on the commuter front: Though Westporters suffer daily woes on Metro-North trains, many more folks ride Westport Transit District buses to board them.

Combined with after-school increases, the WTD projects a near 11% rise in riders this year. After a decade of dwindling numbers — both a cause and effect of funding and service cuts — that’s impressive news indeed.

From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, the WTD carried 63,000 riders. This year, it’s on track for 70,000. And that includes 3 weeks when Metro-North’s worst woes kept nearly everyone off the rails.

The ridership increases work out to 8.5% for fixed-route commuter buses, and 40% in after-school riders. One of the key after-school routes is to Earthplace, where several dozen students have internships.

A Westport transit bus makes a pickup at Saugatuck station.

A Westport transit bus makes a pickup at Saugatuck station.

Jim Ross — chair of the Westport Citizens Transit Committee — ties much of the increase to the “huge efforts” of unpaid transit directors Jennifer Johnson and Gene Cedarbaum.

“They’ve single-handedly upped the WTD’s game by tirelessly working with state, town and business communities to raise awareness and support,” Ross says.

He also cites a “smart, cost-effective marketing effort” that includes internet and social media efforts, new route and schedule brochures, train station signage, and community outreach programs.

Today, for example, the WTD is handing out brochures — and free coffee — at Westport’s train stations.

The Westport bus shuttle map.

The Westport bus shuttle map.

Early next month, they’ll unveil a “transit info kiosk” at the Senior Center. It will contain brochures and information about all Westport transportation options, from WTD buses to shared-ride services and taxis.

“We haven’t reinvented the wheel,” Ross says. (It’s unclear whether his pun was intentional or not.)

“But this is a bit of proof that if we get information out to people, they realize there’s a need. This isn’t the Friends of the Library. It’s not a charity. It’s public transportation, which is as un-sexy as it gets. But it is a service. Citizens are showing that they want it.

“If town officials really commit to this — if they move from a discussion of ‘Should we have it?’ to ‘This is a town gem’ — we can really move forward.”

As budget season begins, the wheels on Westport’s bus service are clearly on a roll.