The Londonderry Town Council will not skimp on the expense in caring for one of the most valuable segments of its population, but it won’t duplicate services either.
The Council discussed the ongoing need for senior transportation in its Monday, Dec. 5 meeting.
Council Chair John Farrell reminded his peers and the television audience that the Council has already had “a number of discussions” on the issue. The town spends $26,000 per year to be part of CART, the Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation, a bus service that makes regular stops for shopping and medical appointments. “We have discussed staying with CART, buying our own vehicle, leasing a vehicle,” Farrell said. “For the $26,000 we spend on CART, could we hire our own people?”
Town Manager Kevin Smith said that Administrative Support Coordinator Steve Cotton has looked into having a van donated, and that Ford of Londonderry has expressed willingness to donate a transport van.
“It is a regular van and not handicapped-accessible,” Cotton told the Council.
Smith said his position is that the town should not support both CART and its own service. “We would have runaway costs,” he said. “If we have to lease a vehicle, we can do it with the money we currently spend on CART.”
Smith said Windham contracted with CART, but dropped the service in favor of its own van and drivers, and also dropped two-thirds of the cost. But Windham is a smaller community, he added.
Councilor Joe Green said his original thought had been to enhance what CART offered with town services. “They are helpful,” he said, “but they don’t hit the real core of our needs.”
“If we can get a van that can do both, help the handicapped and the regular passengers, then I’m okay with it,” he said.
Martin Srugis, a community member and CART board member, warned the Council, “If one town pulls out of CART, it makes it difficult for the other towns to support the service. Salem recently cut back on its funding, and all the other services suffered.”
Srugis said CART was between directors, but that he would ask the temporary chairman for some data to support his position.
“I appreciate what CART has done,” Farrell said. “But if the town offers a service, we need to own it.” He listed some of the components as being available 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., being ADA-compliant, and having trained drivers. “If we do it, we are going to do it right,” he said.
Smith said he and Cotton would continue to research vans. “If we can’t get the proper kind of vehicle donated, we will lease it,” he said.