Westport Transit District Meeting Minutes 11-29-17

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting Minutes

November 29, 2017 at 10:00 AM – Westport Town Hall, Room 201

downloadable copy

 

Attending

Westport Transit District (WTD) Directors:

            Patsy Cimarosa

            Martin Fox

 

Norwalk Transit District (NTD) Staff:

            Kimberlee Morton, CEO

            Britt T. Liotta, COO

            Grace Zweig, CFAO

           

Public:

            Peter Gold, Chairman, Westport RTM Transit Committee

 

The meeting was called to order at 10:10 AM by Martin Fox. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Directors were asked to do so.  There was no public comment.

 

Approval of Minutes of September 28th meeting

The minutes of the September 28, 2017 meeting of the Directors were approved as presented – motion made by Ms. Cimarosa, seconded by Mr. Fox. 

 

 

FY17 and FY18 YTD Ridership

Mr. Liotta reviewed the monthly ridership report for October 2017 and the fiscal YTD.  As part of his review, Mr. Liotta noted that ridership on the S1 and S4 shuttle routes were down significantly YTD, with the S1 down 27% and the S4 down 40%.  While total shuttle ridership is down 22% YTD, the year-over-year decrease in shuttle ridership was not as high in September and October as July / August when the prior year’s ridership was positively affected by the closing of a large parking lot at the Saugatuck station and the WTD’s offering of free service on the Imperial Lot shuttle.

Mr. Fox suggested that it would be a good idea to run a survey of the origins and destinations of riders of the S1 over a short period of time and in a similar manner to the surveys done earlier in the year. This might help better understand the specific reasons for the decline in ridership of that route, which primarily takes passengers from the Saugatuck train station to destinations on or near the Post Road. Ms. Morton highlighted that the S4 has extremely low ridership, and that the State DOT is continuing to look at low producing runs for possible elimination or reduction.  Mr. Fox noted that an issue with the S4 is the length of the trip, which requires some riders to have much longer trips in one direction than they would have if they drove themselves.  He indicated that the WTD had given thought to restructuring the S4 route by dividing it into two routes, but said that is challenging given the ridership. 

In summary, Mr. Fox commented that the principal cause of the lower shuttle ridership overall in the past year is the addition of a significant number of new parking spaces at the two Westport railroad stations and the associated increase in parking permits issued to commuters.  This has resulted in a 45% decrease in the number of commuters on the Railroad permit waiting list between June 2016 and June 2017.   

Mr. Liotta commented on the decrease in Door to Door ridership.  He stated that there are significantly less clients using the Town to Town service than in recent years.  Mr. Liotta added that part of the reason for the decrease in Westport-funded Town-to-Town trips is that a greater fraction of Door-to-Door trips outside of Westport have been Coastal Link ADA trips based upon their origin and destination.  Ms. Cimarosa commented that another reason for the decline in Town-to-Town trips is that a few riders had passed away over the past year, without there being an addition of new riders to offset the decrease.  Mr. Liotta asked if Norwalk Transit can get a list of the recorded deaths each month from the Town.  Ms. Cimarosa replied that she would look into it.

 

 

FY18 Budget Update

Ms. Zweig presented the YTD financials for the Westport Transit District.  She reported that 1/3 of the way through Fiscal 2018, Operating Results before Westport Assistance are: (1) a deficit of $56K for the commuter shuttles, (2) a deficit of $11K for Elderly / Disabled service, (3) a deficit of $12K for Town-to-Town service – with total YTD Operating Results before Assistance of $79K.  This $79K deficit is $15K below the Norwalk Transit Budget for Westport services of a $94K deficit (which differs from the WTD budget, as described in the financial report).   Mr. Fox noted that the principal reason for this reduced deficit was the recent low Door-to-Door ridership compared to the assumptions utilized in budget.  Mr. Fox then said that these trends could change at any time. 

Ms. Zweig then commented that going forward, rather than billing the Town of Westport at the beginning of the month, the Town would be billed at the end of the month to reflect actual amounts owed versus the prior process of using estimates and later “true-ups.”

Ms. Zweig said that ridership for Door to Door on the Financial Reports includes  one-way trips and no-shows.  Mr. Liotta further clarified the reasoning: there is a cost involved with the vehicle going to the client and the client not taking the ride.  Ms. Zweig and Mr. Liotta added that while attendants are counted as a trip in recent ridership reports because they fill a seat on the bus, they are not included in cost calculations because they do not generate any additional costs in hours or miles. 

Mr. Fox then asked whether attendants have been included consistently in the historic ridership reports, and Mr. Liotta indicated that he would check into this.  Ms. Morton then asked that the ridership definitions be included whenever included in reports.            Ms. Morton then indicated that the NTD is almost ready to implement a system of allocating costs for all Door-to-Door trips based on hours and miles, which will likely cause Westport’s costs for Door-to-Door services to increase (vs. the current method).

Mr. Fox reported that the Westport budget process will be starting in the month of January.  He stated that if there is any change in any cost allocation methodology or any other significant factor, it would be helpful to have this for WTD budgeting.           Mr. Liotta commented that the NTD should be able to utilize some recent actual trip data to develop an estimate of the cost difference between the current and future allocation methods.

 

 

Connecticut Funding Update

 

Ms. Morton commented that the executives from the NTD will be meeting with the State of CT Transportation Department leadership to discuss FY18 funding.

Marketing

 

Mr. Fox said that he and Ms. Cimarosa are very excited that the WTD launched its new marketing campaign in mid-November.  He said that he is pleased that there had been positive articles about the campaign launch in Westport Now, an online Westport news site, and ‘06880,’ a widely read Westport blog.  He then summarized the components of the marketing program and noted what has been implemented to date:

 

·         Signage at the train stations, consisting of:

o   3 new billboards at the Saugatuck train station and one new billboard in Greens Farms with the WTD’S new messaging, which replace existing billboards.  These were installed on November 27th.

o   8 posters in one of the pedestrian tunnels connecting the west-bound and east-bound sides of the Saugatuck station, which many riders walk through – which will be installed a few days after the meeting

o   A new poster in the Saugatuck station house – which will be installed a few days after the meeting

 

·         5X7 “Take One” cards that include a WTD marketing message, the shuttle routes and links to the WTD website for schedules and myStop instructions.  These have recently been placed at the two train stations, the three coffee shops around the Saugatuck stations, the library and Town Hall.  Take One cards will also be placed at local real estate agencies and other key locations in Westport.

 

·         A series of emails messages highlighting the benefits of the taking the shuttles and of the myStop App.  These emails are being sent to email addresses of approximately 11,000 Westport residents, including to:

o   Railroad parking permit holders and people on the permit waiting list

o   People currently registered at Westport Parks and Recreation Department.

 

As of the date of the meeting, 6 of the WTD’s 8 email messages had gone out, with the remaining two to be sent in the next week.  The email messages will be repeated in the first calendar quarter, with other marketing activities utilizing the same messaging to come.

 

·         New route identifiers at the Saugatuck station with the map of the Saugatuck routes and instructions on downloading myStop and links to the schedules.       Mr. Fox noted that the pole that hosted the S3 route identifier is now missing, but he is in touch with the Westport Public Works department to replace it.

 

Mr. Fox concluded the discussion of the new marketing campaign by saying that the WTD believes that the new campaign will increase awareness and the image of the WTD shuttles, which he and Ms. Cimarosa are expecting will lead over time to an increase in ridership from what it otherwise would have been.

2018 Meeting Calendar

 

Mr. Fox presented the 2018 Meeting calendar.  The Town is not able to get back to Mr. Fox yet with room commitments, but Mr. Fox did not feel there would be any issues.

 

Mr. Fox made a motion to accept the calendar, Ms. Cimarosa approved the motion.

 

Mr. Liotta commented that the calendar will be posted on the NTD website within the week.

Other Business

Mr. Fox asked about the recent Norwalk Transit hearings regarding the service changes and potential fare increases.  Ms. Morton said that the hearings went well.  The NTD presented all of the relevant facts, but since there was little attendance at the meetings, there was not much public comment.  Mr. Fox asked if the NTD was still considering raising the fares, and if so, when.  Ms. Morton stated that with the uncertainty of the State budget, the NTD needs to be prepared in the event that it does not get the necessary funding needed to maintain its routes and schedules.  Ms. Morton added that if the funding does not come through, the fare increase could take effect as early as January.  Mr. Fox commented that if Norwalk does increase the fares, then Westport would need to hold public hearings shortly thereafter to follow suit.

Ms. Cimarosa commented that the WTD has been having continuing discussions with the Westport Human Services Department about a possible mid-day fixed route shuttle between certain housing areas (such as Canal Park) and services on the Post Road such as shopping,  the Library and the Senior Center. The initial thinking was that there would be service 1 or 2 times / week – with consecutive trips in a loop so that a rider could go to their destination in an earlier trip and return home in a later trip.  Mr. Fox and Ms. Cimarosa reported that the Human Services Department is very enthusiastic about the idea.  Mr. Fox said that the next step is to meet with some residents to get a better idea of the level of interest and gather other helpful information.  After that, Mr. Fox said they would be looking for some assistance from Norwalk Transit to help plan out a route.  Mr. Liotta said that he would get involved and help.

Mr. Gold said that he would like to make some comments on possible future ridership growth ideas.  Mr. Gold commented that the WTD could consider trying to place its “Take One” cards at some of the larger office buildings in Town (such as Pepperidge Farms) as well as the 597 Post Road West apartment building to encourage utilization of the shuttles.  Mr. Fox said that he and Ms. Cimarosa agree with Mr. Gold on this idea;  they have been planning to try to place the Take One cards at these locations early next year after they complete the project of placing the cards at local real estate agencies.

Mr. Gold then said that with the heavy traffic on Route 95 and the Norwalk Mall opening soon, WTD could look into operating a shuttle from Westport to the new mall.  Ms. Morton commented that the mall is not scheduled to open until the Fall of 2019, and it wouldn’t be feasible to consider adding such at a route until at least that time – when an evaluation would have to be made to determine if there would be sufficient ridership to justify such a route.

Mr. Gold then asked about the possibility of running a seasonal shuttle in the summer from a central location in downtown Westport to Compo Beach.  There was then a discussion among the attendees of the challenges, potential citizen interest levels and concerns, and other considerations.  Mr. Fox then said if the WTD does another consumer survey, a question regarding citizen interest in such a service could be included.

Mr. Gold then asked Ms. Morton how far away the NTD is from introducing an app to allow for mobile ticketing on a phone.  Ms. Morton commented that it is not on the District’s current list of future projects, which includes other more pressing priorities.  Mr. Liotta commented that there may be a future introduction of a smart card, rather than a mobile app, based on the current technology already on the buses.

Ms. Morton reiterated that the timing of a fare increase is uncertain at this point, but that the NTD should know more in the near future.

Ms. Morton mentioned that the NTD recently hired a planner with a marketing background, who will be starting January 2nd.  

 

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:33 AM.  The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 31st, 2018 at 10:00am at Westport Town Hall in room TBD.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Britt T. Liotta

Chief Operations Officer

Norwalk Transit District

September 28, 2017 Meeting Minutes

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting

Thursday, September 28, 2017 at 7:30PM

Westport Town Hall – Room 201

                                                     Minutes download

 

Attending

Westport Transit District (WTD) Directors:

            Patsy Cimarosa

            Martin Fox

 

Norwalk Transit District (NTD) Staff:

            Kimberlee Morton, CEO

            Britt T. Liotta, COO

            Grace Zweig, CFAO

           

Public:

            No representation

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:32 PM by Martin Fox. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Directors were asked to do so.  There was no public representation present. 

 

Approval of Minutes of March 28, 2017 meeting

The minutes of the May 31, 2017 meeting of the Directors were approved as presented – motion made by Ms. Cimarosa, seconded by Mr. Fox. 

 

 

FY17 and FY18 YTD Ridership

Mr. Liotta reviewed the monthly ridership report for August 2017 and the fiscal TYD.  As part of his review, Mr. Liotta noted that the year-to-year comparisons for the commuter shuttles for July and August were somewhat impacted by the fact that the shuttles (particularly the Imperial shuttle) got a boost in ridership in July – September 2016 due to the reconstruction of Saugatuck Railroad Station Lot #1.   

Mr. Fox noted that shuttle ridership in the second half of the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017 was down about 23%, and that the year-over-year trend was similar in the August YTD period.   He then commented that the principal cause of the lower shuttle ridership in the past year is the addition of a significant number of new parking spaces at the two Westport railroad stations and the associated increase in parking permits issued to commuters.  This has resulted in a 45% decrease in the number of commuters on the Railroad permit waiting list between June 2016 and June 2017.    

Mr. Fox stated that S4 ridership has been the most affected on a percentage basis, which he believes is mostly because of the length of the ride for many passengers.   He then commented that the G1 and G2 continue to have very low ridership, although ridership on both routes is up somewhat over the prior year. 

Mr. Fox then said that he and Ms. Cimarosa are hopeful that the new marketing program (see “Marketing” below) will have a positive impact on ridership – although he cautioned that most of the results of awareness and image building programs are not typically seen immediately, but are experienced over time.

Ms. Morton commented that the Connecticut Transportation Department has been reviewing the Westport shuttles, and that the declining ridership could cause a decrease in State funding.  Mr. Fox indicated that he understands the concern and commented that the WTD will take into account the results of the first few months of the new marketing program and then formulate a plan to address the less productive components of the shuttles.

Ms. Cimarosa then provided an update about a meeting that she and Mr. Fox had with Westport’s Human Services Department and a few other interested parties earlier in September.  As part of the meeting, the attendees had a brainstorming session about a possible mid-day shuttle service to go from certain housing areas to certain key destinations in Westport such as shopping areas on the Post Road and the Westport Senior Center and library.  Ms. Cimarosa commented that many years ago a similar service was offered in Westport on a 3 day / week schedule during the mid-day hours.  Ms. Morton stated that this service would need to be a fixed route open door revolving service with a schedule.  Mr. Fox added that he and Ms. Cimarosa think that such as service has the potential of being valuable to the community, and he and Ms. Cimarosa are meeting again with Human Services Department personnel and others in October to continue the discussion.

Finally, it was noted that Door-to-Door ridership, particularly Town-to-Town, continues to be less than expected.  Mr. Fox noted again that Door-to-Door ridership varies significantly over time because the majority of trips are taken by a small number of riders.  Mr. Liotta added that the ridership schedules doesn’t include the complete picture for Door-to-Door trips for Westport residents as they don’t include trips taken by Westport residents where the origin and destination are both within the ADA corridor (as WTD is not involved in the funding for these trips)

FY18 Budget Update

Ms. Zweig presented the YTD financial report for the Westport Transit District, which shows a surplus of $10,584 when actual results are compared to a pro rata monthly allocation of the NTD budget for Westport (which differs from the WTD budget, as described in the financial report). Mr. Fox noted that the principal reason for the surplus was the recent low Door-to-Door ridership compared to the assumptions utilized in budget and the Door-to-Door ridership trends about a year ago. Mr. Fox then said that these trends could change at any time. 

Ms. Morton then commented that it would be a more efficient process for the NTD to invoice the WTD after each month based on the amount actually owed, compared to the current process where WTD reimburses NTD based on a fixed estimates and subsequent adjustments.  It was agreed to start this process going forward.

Ms. Morton commented that the expenses for the Town to Town services are being under allocated to Westport. This is due to (a) the fact that the average length of WTD Town-to-Town trips exceeds the length of the other trips in the pool being allocated and (b) NTD’s current methodology allocates costs to WTD based on the number of trips.  Ms. Morton noted that in other situations when a trip crosses a municipal border, such trips are counted as two trips.  She added that since the Westport Town to Town trips are allocated revenue reimbursement of two trips, it would be consistent to allocate the expenses as two trips.  Mr. Fox commented that it may make more sense to utilize an average length of the Westport trips, because the cost to WTD of the Town-to-Town trips is not anywhere near the cost of two other trips, as reflected in NTD data and a sample of Door-to-Door trips dispatched in a particular week in September 2016.  

Ms. Morton then stated that for administrative efficiency reasons, it would be difficult for the NTD to not apply the methodology of counting Town to Town trips as two trips for all NTD-serviced programs (vs. the previously contemplated new allocation methodology based on time and distance information coming out of the newly implemented software).   Mr. Liotta and Ms. Morton assured the WTD Directors that the accounting change would not have a significant impact on WTD’s financials.  Mr. Fox said that the WTD is in favor of whatever methodology would be fair to both parties and he indicated that he looks forward to reviewing the specific changes proposed.

Mr. Fox then indicated that he met with the Westport Board of Finance on September 13th as part of their regularly scheduled meeting to discuss carrying over the unused balance of about $14,000 of the prior fiscal year’s marketing budget, as well as the $85,000 unused balance from the $87,500 Supplemental Appropriation the Town approved in the prior fiscal year.  The Board of Finance agreed to carry over the $14,000 for marketing into the current fiscal year, and also agreed to carry forward the $85,000 unused Supplemental Appropriation until December 31st, pending understanding whether there would be any adverse impact on WTD’s budget of (a) any possible reductions in State financial support or (b) a significant increase on Door-to-Door ridership as a result of ITN ceasing operations.

Connecticut Funding Update

 

Ms Morton and Mr Fox stated there is no further or definitive information about the State’s financial support for the current fiscal year, and the subject will be carried forward onto the next meeting agenda.

Potential Fare Increases

 

Mr. Fox commented that he received all of the materials from the Norwalk Transit District’s latest public hearings in which there will be a discussion of whether there will be new fare increases.  Ms. Morton stated that this is being done in advance of the release of the CT budget as a precautionary measure in case the State does cut funding, but she does not anticipate any fare increases this year.  Mr. Fox commented that the WTD will wait for Norwalk Transit direction of fare increases, and that the WTD would follow NTD’s lead on fare changes.

Marketing

 

Mr. Fox gave an update on the progress in developing a new marketing plan to improve shuttle ridership, which has four parts:

·         Signage at the train stations, consisting of:

o   3 new billboards at the Saugatuck train station and one new billboard in Greens Farms with the WTD’S new messaging, which replace existing billboards

o   8 posters in one of the tunnels connecting the west-bound and east-bound sides of the Saugatuck station, which many riders walk through

o   A new poster in the Saugatuck station house.

 

·         Printed cards that include a marketing message, the shuttle routes and links to the WTD website for schedules and My Stop instructions

 

·         A series of emails messages to approximately 10,000 email addresses, including to:

o   Railroad parking permit holders and people on the permit waiting list

o   People currently registered at Westport Parks and Recreation Department

 

·         New route identifiers at the Saugatuck station with the map of the Saugatuck routes and instructions on downloading My Stop and links to the schedules

Mr. Fox indicated that he expected that the new marketing campaign will commence in October, and that the WTD will publicize the launch.   He said that he and Ms. Cimarosa are excited about the new marketing campaign.  They believe that it will increase awareness and the image of the WTD shuttles, ultimately leading to an increase in ridership from what it otherwise would have been.

Door to Door operations update

Ms. Cimarosa provided an update on a meeting that she and Mr, Fox had with members of the Westport Human Services Department earlier in September.  She reported that several clients that had issues in the May – July period with ride timeliness, but there had been no further issues of note.  Mr. Liotta stated that during that time, Norwalk was implementing a new computer system and consolidating vendors which led to some operating deficiencies.  Mr. Fox asked that going forward he and Ms. Cimarosa be notified in advance of the changes so they can do an outreach, which Mr. Liotta indicated would be done.

 

Other Business

Ms. Morton commented that in Norwalk, the Norwalk Transit District is working with housing developers to refine commuter shuttle services.  She stated they are considering utilizing shuttles that do not appear like traditional buses, and mentioned that the shuttles may have the look and feel of a “café on wheels.”  She said that the residents of certain new apartment buildings are looking for something new and fresh, and do not want to ride in a traditional public bus. Ms. Morton mentioned that this consideration could be relevant to Westport in the future as well.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 9:03 PM.  The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 29th at 10:00am at Westport Town Hall in room 201.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Britt T. Liotta

Chief Operations Officer

Norwalk Transit District

 

May 31, 2017 Meeting Minutes

REVISED 7/14/17

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting Minutes

 

May 31, 2017 at 10:00 AM – Westport Town Hall, Room 201

 

Attending

Westport Transit District (WTD) Directors:

            Patsy Cimarosa

            Martin Fox

 

Norwalk Transit District (NTD) Staff:

            Kimberlee Morton, CEO

            Steve Burka, CFAO

           

Public:

            Peter Gold (Chairman of RTM Transit Committee)

 

The meeting was called to order at 10:04 AM. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Directors were asked to do so.       Mr. Gold shared with the Directors potential future developments regarding the availability of parking spaces for commuters at the two Westport train stations, including:

Ø  Ferry Lane West (Saugatuck station) – The Town of Westport is considering converting some existing parking spaces to commuter use.

Ø  The addition of 40-50 spaces at Greens Farms is being considered for the future.

Ø  Lot 5 (59 spaces at Saugatuck station) will be closed during the summer.  There is expected to be little impact on parking availability for commuters given the lower summer activity.

Mr. Fox added that the RR parking waiting list is down 27% from last fiscal year-end due primarily to a 9% increase in the number of spaces available at the train stations. 

Approval of Minutes of March 28, 2017 meeting

The minutes of the March 28, 2017 meeting of the Directors were approved as presented. 

FY17 YTD Ridership

Mr. Fox reviewed the monthly ridership report prepared by Mr. Liotta.  He noted the continuing shuttle ridership decline.  Ridership was down about 20% in the month of April 2017, when adjusted for the one fewer day in April 2017 vs. April 2016.   He noted that the addition of parking spaces at the train stations and the associated increase in parking permits issued has had a significant negative impact on ridership.

Ridership on the G2 and S4 routes remains a concern.   While ridership levels on all routes have been impacted by the number of new RR parking permits issued during the current fiscal year, the S4 and Imperial Avenue shuttle have been most heavily affected.

Mr. Fox then reviewed Door-to-Door ridership, which has been lower than expected during the current fiscal year.  Overall, Door-to-Door ridership is down 12.6%, year to date through April.  Mr. Fox noted again that the Door-to-Door ridership varies significantly over time because the majority of trips are taken by a small number of riders. 

FY17 Budget Update

Mr. Fox commented that the latest WTD FY17 financial forecast indicated that little, if any, of the $87,500 Westport special appropriation would be needed for the current fiscal year.  Mr. Fox indicated he would initiate a request for carryover of unused funds from the Town into the new fiscal year. 

FY 2018 proposed budget

 

Mr. Fox stated he and Ms. Cimarosa met with the RTM Transit Committee on April 19th to discuss the WTD’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget, which had previously been approved by the Westport Board of Finance.  On May 1, 2017, the full Westport RTM approved the Town’s $371,000 contribution to the WTD budget, which was the last step of the FY 2018 budgetary process. 

 

 

Connecticut Funding Update

 

Ms. Morton stated that CT DOT has not provided guidance regarding funding for the FY 2018 budget.  Ms. Morton then gave an update on the Municipal Grant program and indicated that the required information and certifications would be submitted by NTD on behalf of Norwalk and Westport by the required June 2nd deadline.

Marketing

 

Mr. Fox stated that there haven’t been any significant proactive marketing activities for the commuter shuttles for a significant period of time.  He noted that, as a first step, the WTD recently developed a WTD page for the biennial Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Guide and Membership Directory. 

 

Mr. Fox reported that he had interviewed a number of experienced marketing professionals about assisting the WTD with a new marketing campaign to increase awareness of the shuttles and highlight the benefits of taking them.  He noted that after these discussions, he and Ms. Cimarosa decided to work with Rob Feakins, an award-winning advertising executive who has developed a number of successful advertising campaigns for well-known companies over his career.  Mr. Fox added that the new campaign with leverage the recent availability of the myStop app as part of this effort.  Mr. Feakins and the WTD Directors have also been working with Jyoti Dasgupta, Founder and Creative Strategist at GreatOwl Creative, who is developing new designs for the campaign.

 

The campaign will include:

 

1.    A series of email messages to railroad parking permit holders and people on the permit waiting list that will be sent out in June and the Fall.

 

2.    New posters placed at the Saugatuck and Greens Farms rail stations and other locations around Westport later in the summer.

 

3.    Cards showing the shuttle route map and other information, including the website.

Route Planning Preparation

Mr. Fox then gave an update on the preparatory steps underway to support the upcoming review of the WTD’s route structure and schedules.  These include: 

1.    Plotting of the addresses of RR parking permit holders and people on the RR parking wait list addresses on a Town map, which also shows the existing WTD routes.  This will enable the WTD to clearly see the relative density of potential shuttle riders by area.  Mr. Fox expressed his appreciation to the WestCOG GIS team for their significant assistance with this project.

 

2.    Passenger spotting of current users by where they board and depart the shuttles.

 

3.    Analysis of productivity by trips and routes.

Results of this review will be forthcoming later in the calendar year.

 

Other Business

No other business was noted.  Ms. Morton then updated the Directors on the NTD’s RFP process for subcontractors for Door-to-Door services.   She indicated that based on a review of the submitted proposals the NTD had decided to reduce the number of subcontractors from 6 to 2 for efficiency reasons and that the change would become effective July 1, 2017.  Ms. Morton also noted that after this change is made, the NTD will be instating other measures to improve integration of the subcontractors into NTD’s dispatching.  She also indicated that the NTD had recently commenced scheduling Door-to-Door trips using newly implemented software and that in this context Door-to-Door riders were now being asked the time of their appointment for dispatching purposes (vs. a requested pick-up time).

 

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:28 AM.  The next meeting is scheduled for July 27, 2017 at 10:00 AM at Westport Town Hall in room 201.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Martin Fox

Westport Transit District Director

 

 

March 28, 2017 Meeting

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting Minutes

March 28, 2017 at 7:30 PM – Westport Town Hall, Room 201

 

Attending

Westport Transit District (WTD) Directors:

            Patsy Cimarosa

            Martin Fox

 

Norwalk Transit District (NTD) Staff:

            Kimberlee Morton, CEO

            Britt Liotta, COO

           

Town of Westport

            Foti Koskinas, Chief of Police

            Sam Arciola, Deputy Chief

 

Public:

            None

 

The meeting was called to order at 7:35 PM. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Directors were asked to do so.  There were no comments offered. 

Approval of Minutes of February 28, 2017 meeting

The minutes of the February 28, 2017 meeting of the Directors were approved as presented. 

 

 

FY17 YTD Ridership

Mr. Fox reviewed the monthly ridership report prepared by Mr. Liotta.  He noted that the more negative trend in commuter shuttle ridership that started in January continued into February.  Mr. Fox added that this change in shuttle ridership trends occurred about the same time as there was an increase in available railroad parking spaces and additional parking permits were issued.  Chief Koskinas and Deputy Chief Arciola noted that there has been a 9% increase in available railroad parking spaces since the Fall.  Chief Koskinas and Deputy Chief Arciola also noted that they believe that commutation from the Westport rail stations has been less than usual in January and February overall, as they observe that the use of available parking spaces has been less than they expected during this period, in addition to the shuttle ridership being lower.

Ms. Morton added that she believes that it’s clear that there has been a negative impact on ridership from the added parking.  Ms. Morton expressed a concern that reductions in ridership could ultimately contribute to a reduction in the level of State funding support for the Westport shuttles.

Mr. Fox and Mr. Liotta then reviewed the trends in the number of Door-to-Door trips by category, which continued the lower year-over-year ridership trends of recent months. Mr. Fox noted again that the Door-to-Door ridership varies significantly over tine because the majority of trips are taken by a small number of riders.

 

FY17 Budget Update

Mr. Fox commented that the latest WTD FY17 financial forecast, completed in early February, projected that WTD would only require about $23,000 of the $87,500 supplemental appropriation approved by the Town of Westport late last year. This is due to expenses being lower than the revised WTD budget prepared last Fall.  Mr. Fox then said that if the recent lower Door-to-Door ridership continues for the rest of the fiscal year, it’s likely that even less than $23,000 of the Westport supplemental appropriation would be required.

Mr. Fox said that the cost reductions have been generated primarily from the elimination of dedicated vehicles for the “Within Westport” Door-to-Door services by integrating these trips into the overall Norwalk Transit system, savings in healthcare costs based on NTD’s decision to move to the State medical plan, enhanced management of parts inventory, as well as the lower than forecast Door-to-Door ridership.  Ms. Morton noted that union negotiations are ongoing and wage rates continue to be unresolved.

 

FY 2018 proposed budget

 

Mr. Fox reviewed the WTD’s FY18 budget and provided an update on the WTD’s discussions with the Westport Board of Finance.  He indicated that on March 15th,  the Westport Board of Finance approved a $371,100 contribution to the WTD budget for FY18. He added that the next steps in the Westport budget process are a meeting with the Westport RTM Transit Committee and then consideration of the WTD FY18 budget by the full Westport RTM in early May.

 

Ms. Morton advised that the Federal Transit Administration Section 5310 Grant application was submitted on behalf of the Town of Westport and the Norwalk Transit District.  Mr. Fox thanked the NTD for leading this effort.  Ms. Morton further advised that there continues to be no news on the Connecticut Municipal Grant Program at this time.  Mr. Fox noted that last year the Municipal Grant application had been made available earlier in the calendar year and the due date had been March 31.

Ms. Morton stated that CT DOT has not provided guidance regarding funding for

FY 2018.  She indicated that the CT DOT had advised Norwalk Transit that it would issue a contract in the amount of 50% of the FY 2017 contract value to facilitate Norwalk Transit’s cash flow until such time they finalize the FY 2018 funding.

Ms. Morton indicated that the final resolution could be months into the fiscal year and will be dependent on the Governor’s final budget details.

 

Marketing

 

Mr. Fox gave an update on WTD marketing.  He presented the recently developed WTD page that will be included in the biennial Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Guide and Membership Directory.  He noted that he has been and will be speaking with a number of marketing professionals in the coming weeks about assisting WTD with a marketing program.  Mr. Fox stated that the objective of the WTD marketing initiatives will be to positively impact ridership by increasing awareness of the shuttles and highlighting the benefits of riding them.  He commented that WTD intends to leverage the recent availability of the myStop App as part of this effort. 

 

Route Planning Preparation

Mr. Fox then gave an update of the preparatory steps underway to support the WTD’s upcoming review of its route structure and schedules.  He indicated that the WTD plans to complete this project in the second calendar quarter. 

Mr. Fox then said that he has been working with WestCOG personnel to produce a Town map plotting the addresses of Town residents with railroad parking permits and who are on the waiting list for such permits, to enable the WTD to clearly see the relative density of potential shuttle riders by area.

Mr. Fox then thanked Mr. Liotta for the passenger spotting he and Stephanie Scavelli (NTD’s Manager of Planning and Marketing) had completed for all of the WTD routes (other than the Imperial shuttle).   Mr. Fox then indicated that he and Ms. Cimarosa would take care of mapping the data for the 3 routes that didn’t yet have a graphical representation.

Mr. Fox then asked Mr. Liotta if the NTD could do an update of the trip level productivity for the month of April to support the WTD’s evaluation of its schedules.  Mr. Liotta indicated that he would arrange for this to be done.

Ms. Morton then encouraged the WTD to consider modifications to its route structure based on analysis of all of the information that the WTD has been gathering.  Mr. Fox commented that the WTD’s target is to have a preliminary plan available for discussion and comment at the next WTD Directors’ meeting.

 

Other Business

Ms. Morton reported that it was recently brought to her attention that there aren’t any governing by-laws for the Westport Transit District.  She recommended that the Directors consider adopting by-laws to avoid problems that could occur in the future for failure to have any in place.  She also advised that absent by-laws the Directors’ could choose to adopt Roberts’ Rules of Order until such time by-laws can be prepared.  Ms. Morton suggested that this be a subject of formal discussion and added to the next meeting agenda. 

 

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 8:48 PM.  The next meeting is scheduled for May 31, 2017 at 10:00 AM.

 

February 28, 2017 Meeting

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting
Monday, February 28, 2017 at 10:00AM
Westport Town Hall – Room 309


Agenda

1)    Public comment
2)    Approval of minutes of January 30, 2017 meeting
3)    FY17 YTD Ridership
4)    State of Connecticut funding update
5)    FY18 proposed budget
6)    Passenger information tool update
7)    Door-to-Door alternatives
8)    Other business
9)    Adjournment

Meeting Minutes  


 

January 30, 2017 Meeting

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting
Monday, January 30 at 10:00AM
Westport Town Hall – Room 201

Agenda Items

1) Public comment

2) Approval of minutes of December 20, 2016 meeting

3) FY17 YTD Ridership

4) FY17 YTD Financial results

5) State of Connecticut funding

6) Passenger information tool update

7) Door-to-Door alternatives

8) Other business

9) Adjournment

 

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting Minutes

 January 30, 2017 at 10:00AM – Westport Town Hall, Room 201

PDF

Attending

Westport Transit District (WTD) Directors:

            Patsy Cimarosa

            Martin Fox

 

Norwalk Transit District Staff:

            Kimberlee Morton, CEO

            Britt Liotta, COO

            Steven Burka, CFAO

Public:

            Peter Gold

The meeting was called to order at 10:06 AM. 

Public Comment

Peter Gold representing the public commented on the fine job the Directors have been doing. 

Mr. Gold was advised in response to his question that the Town of Westport was responsible for posting minutes of the Westport Transit District on the Town’s website should it desire to do so.

Approval of Minutes of December 20, 2016 meeting

The minutes of the December 20, 2016 meeting of the Directors were approved as presented. 

FY17 YTD Ridership

A discussion of the ridership report ensued.  With the exception of the S-2 and the Imperial Lot, ridership continues to trend downward on the commuter shuttles.  It was noted that addition of commuter parking spaces is having a direct impact on ridership. 

Mr. Liotta noted that plotting of boarding and alighting’s as requested will be completed and presented at the next meeting. 

Mr. Fox indicated that the WTD is planning to evaluate its commuter shuttle route structure and schedule, examining the Green Farms shuttle routes first.  At this time, the WTD Directors have decided not to engage a consultant to assist with this project, but may reconsider this decision at another time.

Overall Door-to-Door usage is down year-to-date by 4.3%, with ridership below the WTD’s expectations.

FY17 YTD Financial results

Highlighted below are the financial results through December 2016 presented by

 Mr. Fox.

Ø  Operating loss prior to local subsidy was about $142,000

Ø  Additional local subsidy required over the original budgeted amount (excluding consideration of the mid-year Westport supplemental appropriation) was $5,500.

Ø  The shortfall for the year was anticipated to be $87,500 (consistent with the Supplemental appropriation approved by the Town governing bodies in November and December).

Ø  The better than expected financial performance was due to higher than forecast savings from eliminating the system of dedicating two vehicles for “Within Westport” Door-to-Door trips, lower than expected Door-to-Door usage and enhanced management of parts inventory.

 State of Connecticut funding

Discussion followed regarding the DOT’s “Budget Options” report to OPM for a 50% funding cut to Transit District fixed route operations in FY 2018.  Ms. Morton noted the Governor’s budget will be released in mid-February.  The direct impact is not expected to be known until April at the earliest. 

Ms. Morton advised that the DOT had released a study recommending statewide productivity measures including but not limited to 20 passengers per revenue hour for local routes and 10 passenger trips per revenue hour for express routes, two passenger trips per revenue mile for local routes and one passenger trip per revenue mile for express routes, and a 20% minimum fare box recovery ratio. 

FTA 5310 funding was discussed as a potential additional resource.

Passenger information tool update

A draft of myStop instructions for Westport Transit was presented.  Minor revisions were discussed and made.

Door-to-Door Alternatives

A Town of Westport RFP for alternatives was recently issued.

Other Business

No other business was noted.

2017 Meeting Calendar

Reference was made to the 2017 meeting calendar approved by the Directors at their December 20, 2016 meeting.  Meetings will be held in Westport Town Hall, unless otherwise indicated in the notice for the meeting.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:18 AM.  The next meeting is scheduled for February 28, 2017 at 10:00 AM.

 Respectfully submitted,

Martin Fox

Westport Transit District Director