Council Considers Upfront Costs of Town-Run Senior Transit

In an update on transportation offerings for Londonderry seniors, Town Manager Kevin Smith said several neighboring communities are providing services to residents at varying costs.

“What we have found in surrounding communities is some have town-run transportation systems for their seniors and some are a hybrid, offering a town subsidy but having it be privately run,” he told the Council at its May 2 meeting.

The Senior Resource Committee has proposed Londonderry enhance transportation offerings seniors are accessing through the Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation (CART), which Councilor Joe Green said are not sufficient for the needs of seniors in town.

But Council Chairman John Farrell said he has not heard from seniors in the community that transportation is an issue and asked that the results from a survey the Senior Resource Committee conducted last year be shared at the Council’s next meeting.

According to responses provided in the Committee’s 2015 Transportation Survey, most seniors in town travel in their own vehicles, rather than relying on public transportation.

Preliminary data revealed that of 104 seniors who participated in the survey, 77 said they have their own car and only six said they use CART services.

But Green said people who are not satisfied with CART aren’t speaking up because they fear losing the services they have, even though they aren’t sufficient to meet their needs.

“People are coming to me,” he said. “That type of demographic, they don’t like to complain about anything. They try to do it on their own, they’re very prideful and they don’t want to give up the service they do have.”

Smith said the Town could approach enhancing transportation options through a variety of models with varying price tags.

For example, the Town of Windham has cut its budget for public transportation in half since moving to a town-run system. Windham offers transportation Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with three on-call drivers who are employed by the Town and paid a little over $8 per-hour, according to Smith.

Smith said while there are upfront costs to purchasing a bus and insurance, as well as for hiring drivers, Windham has seen its annual budget for transportation halved, from $14,000 to $7,000.

“What I have heard from the folks in Windham is it has been widely successful having it be town-run,” he said, noting Community Caregivers has helped fill any gaps in service.

Alternatively, Atkinson placed $5,000 in its capital reserve fund to subsidize the start-up costs of its own transportation program, Smith said.

“The Towns that are doing it seem to be very successful; and it appears in towns like Windham, they are doing it very much on the cheap. In a town like Atkinson, it’s a hefty budget item,” he said. “Can it be done? Yes. It appears the cost varies depending on how the community does it.”

The Council plans to consider responses to the Senior Resources Committee’s 2015 Transportation Survey and further discuss transportation options at future meetings.

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