It was back in March 2017 when voters agreed to the authorization of $35,000 for additional transportation needs of the senior population as well as those served by the Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation (CART). This money was used in part to determine the level of need or any gaps in the service currently offered by CART. The town council instated a 90-day CART/Green Cab pilot program that began on July 1 of 2017 and was extended until December 31, of 2017. The pilot programmed worked as follows, if CART was unable to provide service to a Londonderry rider, CART called the Londonderry Senior Center director and the director was able to make accommodations for the rider and the town paid the full fare.
The pilot program was advertised extensively with ads in the Londonderry Times, the town website, Facebook, Twitter, flyers in town buildings, and the Londonderry cable network as well. Several articles also ran in the Londonderry Times, Derry News, and the Union Leader to get the word out about the services provided by CART and Green Cab. It was also heavily promoted at the Londonderry Senior Center.
During the six months of the pilot program (July-December), CART provided 1,150 trips to 31 unduplicated riders. CART only refereed five rides to the senior center director, meaning there were only five requested rides in the six months that CART was unable to accommodate. Statistically, this adds up to less than 1.5%. Of the five rides, one rider was referred to Community Caregivers and the other four were booked with Green Cab with a total cost of $139 the town was made to pay. However, three of the four cab fares provided were booked for the same person and therefore only two people made use of the Green Cab rides during the six month pilot program. In addition to the $139 spent on the cab fare, the town also spent $384 on postage for the mailings for the advertisements and approximately $500 for ads in the Londonderry Times. The total amount spent for the pilot program from the designated $35,000 was $1,023. Phone issues including answering machines and voicemail with CART have also been remedied.
Assistant Town Manager Lisa Drabik spoke with citizens who expressed differing opinions on the pilot program. On one side, some have expressed the opinion that the town does not need to spend any more additional funds on the issue and that the problems with transportation seemed to have been remedied. Other opinions have been that senior transportation continues to be an issue of concern. One member of the Senior Resources Committee approached Drabik about the possibility of making use of school buses or other bus services for seniors in town, but no further action on that idea has been taken.
Council member Joe Green felt this pilot program was a tremendous success, because transportation was supplied to the people who needed it the most. Since there are still funds available designated to the CART program, Green felt that it would be a good decision to continue on with the program or if an issue were to arise, these funds would be available for the needs of the senior citizens and other people that need the transportation. Vice-Chairman John Farrell felt it would be in the town council’s best interest to trust the judgment of both the Town Manager and the Assistant Town Manager to continue to use the funds to help the community with transportation needs. If the remaining money goes unused, then any remaining unspent funds would lapse to the general fund surplus. Another possible option may be to help the senior community with heat needs, but only after this fiscal year is over and it allowed by the warrant.