For Westport resident and 19-year bus rider John Kennedy, public transportation is as much of a town service as police and fire. This was the message Kennedy had for the Board of Finance on Wednesday night as it considered whether to restore $60,000 to the Westport Transit District budget.
"Looking at the average cost per ride is not the way to look at this. This is a town service," Kennedy told the board. "Should we talk about how much it costs each time the fire trucks go out or each time the police make a run? While we have to look at efficiencies, you can't just look at it as a numbers game. It is not just a numbers game it's to accommodate the whole town."
Kennedy's comments were in response to board member Avi Kaner's cost-benefit analysis of some of the transit district's bus routes. During formal budget hearings March 23, the board voted to cut $100,000 from the transit district's 2011-12 budget of $281,000.
Although Bud Titsworth and Jim Hood, directors of the Westport Transit District, presented a few options for cutting $40,000, they pleaded to have $60,000 restored.
Despite their explanations, Kaner said he would not support restoration, saying he could not justify the amount of money being spent, per ride, on some buses because they have low ridership.
"I concur that this is a start, but I don't concur that this is a good start," Kaner said. "This transit system you're representing is a white elephant."
In the end, the board voted 5-2 to restore the $60,000 to the transit district budget. Kaner and board member Brian Stern voted against the restoration.
Do you ride the bus? Do you think buses are an important community service?
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