Transit Service Again Focus of Elder Affairs Meeting

Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation officials met once again with the Town’s Elder Affairs Committee to discuss ways the alliance, known as CART, could better serve elders. CART provides transporation service in Londonderry, Chester, Derry, Hampstead and Salem.

CART Executive Director Annette Stoller and board member Tim White, who is principal transportation planner with the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, were at the Tuesday, April 15 meeting to respond to ongoing complaints that the transportation service has left riders stranded.

“We have redone the schedules so you can put them up in places that are frequented by people, and we also have a large type copy,” Stoller said. “The times are a little vague because the people’s requests are vague.”

Committee Chairman Al Baldasaro suggested the larger type schedules be given to Londonderry Elder Affairs Director Catherine Blash to be put up on Senior Center bulletin boards and handed out to seniors.

“One of the key questions had been getting people to hospitals in Manchester, and we now have available Elliot Hospital, the new Elliot at River’s Edge, Elliot Outpatient Services, Dartmouth- Hitchcock in Manchester, the Veterans Administration Hospital and Catholic Medical Center,” Stoller said.

At the previous meeting, Stoller was asked the number of people were served by CART.

“We have some ridership statistics here from 2013, which went from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013,” White said. “Total trips to Londonderry residents during fiscal year 2013 was 2,435. If we took that number and compared it with the Londonderry contribution to CART, which for that fiscal year was $26,500, that’s an average cost of $10.88 per trip.”

Committee member Bonnie Ritvo asked if that figure included seniors taking CART to the senior center for lunches.

“That would include all of the trips by the residents of Londonderry,” White said.

She asked if a breakdown were possible for the senior lunches and the regular users that don’t  include the lunches, and White said he could do that.

“Our concern is more with those who need to go to the doctors more than for the lunches,” Ritvo said.

Ritvo said she had received a call from a woman who said she had called CART the required two weeks in advance to book a ride and the day before she was to be picked up, CART called and said she wouldn’t be picked up the next morning.

White requested the information so it could be passed along to the call center.

“Then they called her and said, ‘You can’t be picked up at that hour of the morning,’ and on Thursday, they didn’t have any service on that day,” Ritvo said.

Ritvo added that a senior had called CART for a ride to the senior center for the Bone Builders program and wasn’t able to get service.

“We have a new person on the phones (at the call center) who is turning out to be real good. Please, if there are complaints, call us. We’ve had no calls about complaints,” Stoller said.

Town Councilor Joe Green, who is liaison to the committee, said that Stoller had called him three times since the last meeting.

“I just want to make sure that everybody knows that I’m trying to act as point person, just to make sure the flow is continuous, so to the membership here on the committee: they can’t fix a problem unless they know of it, so please call me,” Green said.

Ritvo said taxi vouchers were available when rides aren’t possible, but Stoller said that program had qualifications such as age and Medicaid membership. And Ritvo noted the expense of the voucher program, saying it would cost $25 each way for her to get a ride to and from the senior center, which is 7 miles from her home.

Stoller said the questions would be looked into and remedies would be forthcoming where possible.

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