When the Board of Finance voted to cut nearly $114,000 from the Transit District budget and eliminate three commuter lines last month, .
The board then agreed to , with the stipulation that the full cuts would occur if no progress was made to generate ridership and revenue by January 2013. , according to Bud Titsworth, co-director of Westport’s Transit District.
The Board of Finance initially set out to find a way to lower Westport’s portion of the subsidy for public transportation, which is high to due to low ridership and high operating costs. The operating cost to run the Westport shuttles is $1,095,902, while the fares paid by users is $135,811, according to the Board of Finance budget presentation at the RTM meeting Monday night (attached as a PDF). It became apparent to the finance board that rate increases would be necessary as part of a plan to reduce the subsidy.
The finance board :
- 106 residents use the S2, S3, S4, and Imperial shuttles to the Saugatuck Station
- 38 residents use the Greens Farms shuttles
- 68 non-resident inbound commuters utilize the S1 and Nyala shuttles
- 222 students utilize the school shuttles (38 rides per day)
- 94 residents use the door-to-door service (29 rides per day)
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One of the board’s main concerns was increasing ridership and revenue, and consequently, decreasing the Westport taxpayers’ financial contribution. They were interested in gradually decreasing the Westport subsidy (which is 19 percent of the cost of service) over the course of a few years to a rock bottom number, according to board member John Pincavage.
Westporters who rely on the town’s commuter shuttle, who own only one car because of this unique service, and who moved to town specifically because of this convenience will be relieved. They truly believed the cuts would signal the end of a 'green' convenience for the town ofWestport.
, will be voted on by the RTM at Tuesday night.