Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting
Wednesday, November 28, 2018 at 10:00AM
Westport Town Hall – Room 201
Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting Minutes
For downloadable copy CLICK HERE
November 28, 2018 at 10:00 AM – Westport Town Hall, Room 201
Westport Transit District (WTD or District) Directors:
Norwalk Transit District (NTD) Staff:
Britt Liotta, COO
Kimberlee A. Morton, CEO
Public: Sal Liccione
The meeting was called to order at 10:06 AM.
Members of the public who wished to address the Directors were asked to do so. Mr. Liccione commented that he believes that the Town has a need for more public transportation. He added that he feels strongly that the Westport Transit District should ask for more money for public transit for the next fiscal year.
Approval of Minutes of June 19, 2018 meeting
Motion for approval of the minutes of the June 19, 2018 meeting was made by Patricia Cimarosa, and seconded by Martin Fox. Motion approved.
FY18 YTD Ridership
Mr. Liotta commented that the NTD is checking into possible errors in reporting of recent monthly ridership statistics for two WTD shuttle routes. Mr. Liotta indicated that he would advise the WTD Directors of the result of his review and provide corrected reports (if necessary) as soon as possible. Accordingly, the discussion of the ridership report was tabled until the next WTD Directors meeting.
FY18 Financial / Budget Update
Mr. Liotta said that because of a possible revision in YTD ridership data, a discussion of YTD financial results of the WTD will also be tabled until the ridership numbers are verified or corrected. Mr. Fox commented that in the FY19 financial reports he had reviewed, the FY19 commuter shuttle revenue for Westport appeared low versus the previous year notwithstanding the fact that ridership had increased since the same period last year, and that he had already spoken to Mr. Pentz about that subject. In addition, Mr. Fox noted that Mr. Pentz had already addressed other questions that he had about wages, benefits and supplies in the FY19 YTD period. Mr. Liotta said that he would also discuss the revenue question with Mr. Pentz
2018 WTD Survey
Mr. Fox gave an overview of the results of the recent WTD Town-wide survey. He noted that he and Ms. Cimarosa are very pleased with high citizen response rate to the survey – with about 1,700 citizens participating. Mr. Fox then summarized some of the key findings of the survey, which included:
· 61% of Westport residents “strongly” or “somewhat” agree that the commuter shuttles should receive financial support from the Town of Westport, given current facts and circumstances (26% disagree).
· The survey included a question soliciting citizen opinions about Town funding of the commuter shuttles in the hypothetical situation where Connecticut’s fiscal challenges result in a future $100,000 reduction in state support of the shuttles. Given those assumptions, 40% of respondents believe that Westport should replace the $100,000 of state funding and an additional 50% would support a $50,000 increase in Town funding.
· Awareness and familiarity with the commuter bus service among train riders who don’t take the shuttles has increased since the WTD’s 2016 survey, which demonstrates the positive impact of the WTD’s marketing campaign.
· Citizen support for a possible “microtransit” group door-to-door service to and from the train station is mixed, with an equal number of people believing the Town should or should not support such a service.
-- 16% of commuters (other than current commuter shuttle users) are “considerably” or “extremely” interested in using such a “microtransit” service
-- Two-thirds of current commuter shuttle riders prefer the existing fixed route service to the “microtransit” alternative.
Mr. Fox noted that the WTD survey also provided a lot of useful data about commuting patterns, including the trains each commuter usually utilizes. Mr. Fox then said that recently they have also been able to access 2016 data from Metro-North on the passenger counts for each train to and from the two Westport train stations. (2016 is the most recent year that Metro-North compiled such data.) Mr. Fox said all of this data is very valuable and will help inform future decision making on commuter shuttle operations.
December 3, 2018 RTM Committee meeting
Mr. Fox said that there would be a public meeting among the three Westport RTM Committees most relevant to the funding of the commuter shuttles (Transit, Finance and Long-term Planning) and some members of the Westport Board of Finance on December 3rd. Mr. Fox provided some additional background information and said that the primary objective of the meeting is to provide the Westport Board of Finance with a sense of the RTM’s perspective on the Town’s funding of the commuter shuttles prior to the upcoming FY20 budget process. Mr. Fox indicated that he would make a presentation about the WTD at the meeting – with a focus on the commuter shuttles. He added that they had arranged for Julien Beresford of Beresford Research (who assisted the WTD with the 2016 and 2018 Town-wide surveys) to present the results of the 2018 WTD survey at the meeting.
Mr. Fox stated that the WTD had ordered new posters to (1) replace one of the eight WTD posters the WTD had affixed to a tunnel between the westbound and eastbound platforms which had been vandalized and (2) replace the framed poster in the westbound station house to help keep the marketing program “fresh” in the eyes of commuters.
Mr. Fox then discussed some WTD plans for future marketing activities. He commented that in the second half of FY19 they plan to expand the shuttle marketing program to in-town employees and employers by creating a few “clever” emails to employers in Westport about the benefits of reverse commuting on the shuttles. Mr. Fox said that they have discussed this initiative with the Westport Chamber of Commerce and expect to receive their support in the distribution of such emails.
Mr. Fox also noted that the WTD will create some new messages for outbound commuters in the second half of FY19 addressing key issues such as how commuters may pay for the shuttles. Mr. Liotta then updated Ms. Cimarosa and Mr. Fox on the NTD’s efforts to implement smart card technology, and the possible timing of such an implementation.
Mr. Fox updated Ms. Morton and Mr. Liotta on ongoing discussions between the WTD Directors and the Westport Human Service Department about a possible once or twice a week mid-day fixed route “shopping bus” to provide public transportation between certain housing areas with stores and services on or near the Post Road. Ms. Morton then commented that an evaluation could be done to determine whether it would be best for such a service to be a fixed route type of service or a “microtransit.” Mr. Liotta then said that he believes that a fixed route service may work well based upon the route and other metrics that were supplied by Mr. Fox. Mr. Liotta commented he would take a look at the info provided and make suggestions and recommendations for the group to review.
Next Scheduled Meeting
The next scheduled meeting is to be determined when the Westport Transit Directors post the meeting schedule for the upcoming year.
The meeting adjourned at 11:26 AM.
Westport Transit District Director