Shuttle riders have united after the board of finance recently voted unanimously to into one single line running from the Imperial parking lot, which will allow commuters to park at the Imperial parking lot for free and .
The shuttle riders believe these cuts will hurt Westport more than they will help the town financially.
The bus service returns value to every household in town, according to Westport resident David Greenapple, who believes the service is positive for all who live in Westport. The shuttle makes Westport homes more valuable because more people believe they can live in Westport and commute to New York City, he said.
Members of the Board of Finance, though, believe the cost to maintain the existing shuttle network is extremely high given the low ridership and that the current routes only benefit a small amount of commuters living directly on those shuttle lines.
Greenapple noted a bus rider pays about $480 or more a year in shuttle fees. The $111,800 targeted savings shared over Westport’s 9,586 households is only $11.66 per household per year, according to Greenapple.
“As a homeowner and commuter, I want it. The bus service to the train to support commuting to New York was part of our decision to come here,” Greenapple stated, adding his real estate agent “pitched” his family on the benefit of the bus service.
“I think the value that public bus service brings to this neighborhood is worth much more than $12 per household per year,” Greenapple said.
Carolin Sigal is one Westport resident who will feels that value. Sigal said the cuts will negatively impact her as she would have to bring her husband to the train station daily due to ‘the extraordinarily long wait for a parking permit.’
“Because we have two young, school-aged children, this is going to be complicated,” Sigal said. “My husband will need to be at the station on one side of town, my older son in middle school on the other, and both at roughly the same time.”
Sigal said it will be ‘quite a juggling act’ trying to get everyone where they need to be on a daily basis for the next five -- plus -- years.
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Westport resident and shuttle rider David Fuld agrees with Greenapple’s theory about the correlation between Westport real estate values and the ability to commute easily. He believes everyone in Westport should be concerned with maintaining their property value.
“We see it in trying to maintain our fine school system,” Fuld said. “We should also see it in trying to distinguish Westport as place where the challenges and realities of commuting are understood by our politicians and that actions be put in place to make it better for everyone.”
Fault said the board of finance, without looking at the larger picture, has tried to make the cuts into a simple cost per active rider analysis, which would be similar to ‘comparing per actual robbery count,’ to show that the commuter bus is not economical.
“The commuter service is available to all Westport residents,” Fuld said. “I think if our residents actually understood this and the possible affect on their property value everyone would agree not to cancel service.”
Downtown Westport resident Sal Liccione does not use the shuttle for commuting purposes; however, he uses it to get around town.
Liccione, who does not currently own a car and has lived in town for eight years, also uses the bus as his gateway to Fairfield County and beyond -- that is how he gets to the train station.
Regardless of why each shuttle rider uses the transportation, every rider feels Westport should be seeking opportunities to make our town a more attractive place to live not only for new comers, but also for residents of long standing.