There’s a new proposal to put more bus shelters around the town of Westport. Resident Sal Liccione, a newly elected member on the town’s Citizen’s Transit Committee, is leading that charge.
There are currently two shelters already in Westport, but Liccione wants more. He says workers and residents should not be left in the rain, sleet or snow while waiting for a bus.
“It’s a great idea. A lot of the population wants it. The businesses want it. You know they say all the people standing out here and they want to see them covered,” he said.
The bus service is operated by the Norwalk Transit District and funding comes from three main sources: the state of Connecticut, the Westport town government and a small percentage are from ticket sales. Funding has always been a sensitive issue when it comes to the transit district and it’s partly due to it dwindling ridership . In 2013, the bus service saw about 70,000 riders - a 29 percent drop from when the service started in 2009.
“All these employees come to work here, eat here. A lot of commuters come into town to shop here and eat here. All the town has to do is spend a little bit of money – it’s not even that much," said Liccione.
Basic bus shelters cost around 10 to 15 thousand dollars a pop. And in today's digital age, a lot can be done with little burden on the taxpayer. Selectman Jim Marpe offers an alternative view.
“I’m of the view that evolving technology may limit the need for traditional bus shelters,” he said.
Westport is well known as a tech savvy town. Just a couple of years ago, Westport parents created an app for school buses, telling students and parents if the bus is late or running ahead of schedule. And Marpe says similar apps could make a big difference for the Westport Bus Service.
But it is important to note, Marpe is not ruling out bus shelters.. Referencing the current planning to revitalize the downtown, he says shelters and technology could become part of the discussion by the Downtown Steering Committee.