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Letter: Westport Transit Is On The Move

WESTPORT, Conn. – The Westport Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Send letters to westport@thedailyvoice.com .

On behalf of the Westport Citizens Transit Committee I want to take this opportunity to update Westport residents on some great progress being made for Westport’s public transportation services.

For over 40 years, public transportation has been a valuable service for commuters, downtown businesses, seniors, people with disabilities, folks concerned with congestion or who support the “green-initiative”, children going to after-school activities and citizens who simply want or need to get around Westport. Though many surrounding towns do not support public transportation like Westport, it certainly is one of the key features and benefits that make Westport a truly unique and amazing place.

This year, there was much discussion about public transportation in Westport which brought a renewed awareness and commitment to this “crown jewel” of Westport. And since June, Westport Transit has really been on the move. Here is an update.

In June, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff formed the Citizens Transit Committee (CTC), which is tasked to evaluate the current transit service and make recommendations for increasing awareness and ridership as well as enhancing our transit services to meet the evolving needs of today’s Westport citizens. The CTC members are Westport residents, transit riders, Westport town officials and citizens interested in Westport public transportation. It has met nearly every week through the summer and is charging into the fall with an active public meeting schedule. The CTC posts its schedule and agenda on the Westport Town website and encourages the public to attend.

In addition, the CTC has a new email address: wpctc@westportct.gov . Feel free to let us know what you think about Westport public transportation and send us your great ideas and feedback. We want to hear from you! Join our growing email list so that we can reach out to YOU with updates!

As the committee chairman, I want to heartily welcome the recent appointments by the First Selectman of volunteers Jennifer Johnson and Gene Cederbaum as they begin their new role as Westport Transit Directors. Sincere thanks are expressed to retiring Westport Transit Directors, Jim Hood and Bud Titsworth for their combined 22 years of dedicated volunteer service to the community. The CTC looks forward to working closely with our new Transit Directors and supporting them as they manage the Westport Transit District. Congrats, Jennifer and Gene.

And the CTC wants to applaud the new service called Guaranteed Ride now available for Westport commuters announced last week at Town Hall. Guaranteed Ride offers commuters four free emergency taxi rides a year to or from Westport’s two Metro-North stations. This service is provided by CTrides, which is sponsored by the state Department of Transportation. Guaranteed Rides helps commuters with unexpected work delays or emergency trips home when no shuttle services are available. There is no cost to the Town and the Citizens Transit Committee applauds this support to the Westport community.

The Connecticut Southwestern Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) recently announced a state and federally funded Westport public transportation study called “ Westport Bus Service Operations & Needs Study”. This study will apply current industry best practices to assess operations and develop an updated recommended service and governance plan for Westport bus services, including fixed route, ADA, services for the elderly, services to the two Westport rail stations, off-site parking, and after school shuttle services. On August 30, SWRPA issued a Request for Qualifications due by October 1st. The CTC and Westport Transit Directors will assist, advise and monitor the progress of this study as it unfolds throughout 2013.

Finally, in order to gain feedback and greater insight from the senior community in Westport about Westport transit services, the CTC is sponsoring a public transit forum on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m. at the Westport Center for Senior Activities for Westport seniors and people with disabilities. The purpose for the focus group meeting is to learn about their specific transit needs, including the Door to Door service provided by the Norwalk Transit District. Light refreshments will be served.

It is very important that seniors and people with disabilities attend this Oct. 4 meeting to voice their appreciation for the existing transit services and express their ideas for change. We need to hear from the community and hope many residents will join us at this public transit forum to be held at the Westport Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Ave.

Public transportation is on the move in Westport and it is going our way.

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