As Marty Fox and Patsy Cimarosa step down as directors of the Westport Transit District, Peter Gold steps up to nominate them as Unsung Heroes of the Week. Last week, he addressed his fellow RTM members:
I want to thank Marty and Patsy for their many years of dedicated service to the Westport Transit District.
When I first approached Marty about serving as a director almost 5 years ago, he foolishly believed me when I said the job would not be too time consuming. He signed on for an initial 4-year hitch.
Patsy, the former executive director of the Westport Housing Authority, also signed on, with a primary concern for protecting the Transit District’s door-to-door services for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Together they put in untold hours over the past 4 1/2 years, overseeing the normal day-to-day operation of the Transit System, developing annual budgets and shepherding them through the approval process, setting a high bar with their many accomplishments on behalf of the Transit District and the town.
Here is a list of only a few of their many accomplishments:
- They changed the process of dispatching vehicles for door-to-door service within Westport, achieving savings of $100,000 per year.
- They worked with the Norwalk Transit District, which operates the buses for the Westport Transit District, to develop better financial information and ridership reports for analysis and decision-making.
- They completed 2 Transit District townwide surveys, which achieved high participation rates of 1,500 and 1,700 responses and provided valuable information on citizen attitudes, awareness of the Transit District’s services, demographics and train usage information
- They worked with Human Services to evaluate alternative delivery models for door-to-door services. As part of this effort, they developed two RFPs and then evaluated the responses. This process showed that continuation of the current arrangements with Norwalk Transit District is best for Westport
- Implemented the myStop app which allowed riders to track locations of shuttles, and developed instructions for using the app tailored to Westport residents.
- They successfully applied for continuation of a state matching grant program for door-to-door services in Westport, resulting in $31,600 in annual grants for 2017, ’18, ’19 and ’20.
- Worked with other groups in 2017 to ascertain the density of people around WTD routes, and unserved or underserved areas of town. This analysis confirmed that the Transit District’s fixed route structure was reasonable, given the available resources. The area served by commuter shuttles has recently been expanded to nearly the entire town, with the recent change from the fixed route system to the new Wheels2U Westport micro-transit model.
- Worked with Rob Feakins, an award-winning advertising executive, to develop several comprehensive integrated marketing programs promoting the WTD, the myStop app, and most recently the new micro-transit system. The programs consisted of emails to railroad parking permit holders, people on the permit waiting list, and Parks & Rec email lists, cards and posters at train stations, Saugatuck coffee shops, the library, real estate agencies and other locations in town, and ads in the Chamber of Commerce directory and on WesrtportNow.com. .
- Most recently and most significantly, they developed and rolled out the new Wheels2U micro-transit program. It changes the old, fixed route system of commuter shuttles to an on-demand, door-to-train platform service covering nearly the entire town and more trains during peak commuting hours than the fixed route system it replaces. Since the Wheels2U vehicles travel only where commuters need to go it will be more environmentally friendly, result in shorter commutes to and from the station for many commuters, and lower operating costs for the WTD.
As the end of their terms approached last January, with no new directors to take their places as COVID descended on us all, Marty and Patsy graciously agreed to stay on to continue to supervise the rollout of Wheels2U. Now that Wheels2U has been successfully launched, they want to finally move on.
I’ve worked closely with Marty and Patsy over the past 4 1/2 years. It has been a true pleasure to watch their professionalism, skill and devotion to their tasks.
Congratulations, Marty and Patty. You are true heroes — to commuters, and everyone else in town!