September 18, 2018 - Westport Transit District Director's Meeting Minutes

Westport Transit District Directors’ Meeting Minutes

September 18, 2018 at 10:00 AM – Westport Town Hall, Room 201

Downloadable copy click here

 

Attending

Westport Transit District (WTD or District) Directors:

Patricia Cimarosa

Martin Fox

 

Norwalk Transit District (NTD) Staff:

Britt Liotta, COO

Matt Pentz, Director of Finance

           

The meeting was called to order at 10:03 AM. 

Public Comment

Members of the public who wished to address the Directors were asked to do so.  There was no member of the public in attendance, so no comments were offered. 

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

The end of year FY18 and July 2018 average daily ridership was reviewed by all present.  Some items of note:

·         Commuter shuttle ridership was up 10.9% in June 2018 and 10.7% in May 2018, versus the same months in the prior year.

·         Total FY18 Commuter shuttle ridership was 12.1% below the prior year.

·         Door to Door ridership was up 12.1% in June 2018 and 10.8% in May versus the same month in the previous year.  These increases were partly a function of low levels in the prior year.

·         Total FY18 Door to Door ridership was 24.3% below the prior year.  Door-to-Door ridership was at unusually low levels in FY18 as compared to recent years.

·         July 18 shuttle ridership was up slightly versus the prior year

·         July 18 Door to Door down ridership was down 15.3% versus prior year.

 

Some takeaways from the ridership report:

·         Mr. Fox commented that the issuance of additional railroad parking permits and the associated reduction in the permit waiting list was the major cause of the reduction in FY18 commuter shuttle ridership.  In recent months, the permit waiting list has grown, which coincides with a period of improved ridership.

·         Mr. Fox then commented that the WTD marketing efforts have increased awareness of the commuter shuttles, as evidenced by an increase in visits to the Westport Transit site.  He noted that the marketing program may have been another factor in improved ridership in recent months.

·         Mr. Fox commented that the S-1 has shown stronger ridership in recent months.  Mr. Liotta commented that the WTD / NTD Team made a small adjustment in the afternoon schedule after getting input from an investment firm that moved to the new offices at the former Save the Children site – and that this change may have contributed to more commuters utilizing the shuttles to go to and from their jobs in Westport.

·         Mr. Liotta commented that there were only 8 riders in the Westport Elderly / Disabled service in July 18 which contributed to the low ridership in that month.

FY18 Financial / Budget Update

Mr. Pentz gave a brief review of preliminary results of Operations for the District in FY18 (excluding marketing and miscellaneous funds contributed by the Town of Westport).

·         $921K year-to-date expenses

·         $564K year-to-date assistance from the State in fixed route and Matching Grant funding

·         $90K of revenues

·         $266K Westport assistance

Mr. Fox commented that for FY18, the WTD used only $266K of the $351K budget approved by the Town of Westport for these purposes.  He added that the FY18 Budget had assumed a reduction in the State DOT’s funding for the shuttles, which did not occur.  In addition, reductions in the usage of the Door to Door services caused expenses for those services to be well below Budget.  Mr. Fox added that these positive variances to budget were partially offset by higher fuel and supply expenses

Mr. Fox then described an issue regarding the determination of funding for the Municipal Grant Program in FY18.  Mr. Pentz indicated that he will research this question with the State.

FY 2019 WTD budget

Mr. Fox explained the Town of Westport annual budgeting process to Mr. Pentz, so he will be aware of the timelines and the information needed to assist Westport Transit District in preparing their budgets.

2018 WTD Survey

Mr. Fox commented that the 2018 WTD survey questionnaire will be finalized shortly for release next month to Westport residents. Customized versions are being developed for train commuters, commuter shuttle riders and other Westport residents.  In October, an invitation to take the survey will be emailed to Westport residents on the railroad parking permit list, railroad parking waiting list and to those residents who have given their email address to the Westport Parks and Recs Department.  In addition, this invitation will be complemented by postcards containing links to the survey distributed to the commuter shuttle riders by the drivers.  Finally, the WTD is publicizing the survey to try to increase participation.

Mr. Fox noted that since this is the second survey the WTD is doing after their successful 2016 survey, they do not expect the same number of responses as the last survey (which had a much greater than expected 1500 respondents), but they still feel they will have a good response rate. 

The 2018 survey has the following major objectives:

(1)  Quantify the level of satisfaction with the WTD services;

(2)  Measure awareness of the WTD services;

(3)  Elicit citizen and commuter input on possible new services, particularly “microtransit”

(4)  Measure the perceived importance of WTD services to the community, and Westport citizen attitudes about Town funding of the commuter shuttles.

 

Mr. Fox noted that he and Ms. Cimarosa expect the results of the survey to be especially useful in the coming months when the WTD has discussions with Westport elected officials about the transportation Westport Transit will provide in the future.

Marketing

Mr. Fox gave an update on the WTD’s marketing program since the June WTD meeting as well as plans for the future.  The highlights included:

·         In the last month, the WTD repeated the broad distribution of 5 of the 8 email messages that had been created by the WTD to increase awareness of the commuter shuttles and highlight the benefits of utilizing the service.

·         “Take One” cards promoting the shuttles were placed at the 597 Westport Avenue apartment building, which is at one end of the S1 route.

·         Later this year, the WTD plans to create a few emails for local employees (distributed through their employers) to increase awareness of the buses.

·         The WTD plans to refresh their marketing campaign for the commuter shuttles in 2019.

Other Business

Mr. Liotta gave an update on Norwalk Transit’s new Wheels 2U microtransit service.  He commented that the results for the first weekend were mixed, but still reasonable since it is a startup service.  He said that the NTD believes that as long as they experience increases of ridership over time, they will be pleased with the consumer acceptance of this new service.

Mr. Liotta then gave an update on the availability of 5310 funds for one of the two years applied for in the first application cycle and noted that the NTD is doing some research about potential alternative uses of the funds.

Next Scheduled Meeting

The next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, November 28th, 2018, at 10:00 AM.  The meeting will be held at Westport Town Hall, Room #201

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 11:22 AM. 

 

 Respectfully submitted,

 Martin Fox

Westport Transit District Director