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Tri-CCAP Buses to roll in July 2010

September 24, 2009
OSSIPEE — The Carroll County Transit Project is on schedule to start shuttling tourists and residents on July 1 of next year.

The Carroll County Transit Project is a program of the Tri-County Community Action Program Inc. Carroll County Transit Project began in 2007. In March, the transit project got a major boost when it received $540,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to buy eight buses, said North County Transit Director Beverly Raymond who will oversee the new bus system.

"We were very fortunate," said Raymond. "Otherwise it would take longer to get up and running."

Carroll County's bus fleet will include four 16-passenger buses and four eight-passenger buses. Raymond expects the transit project to take possession of the buses in spring or early summer. Buses will be wheelchair accessible. They were ordered through New Hampshire Department of Transportation.

Carroll County Transit Project buses would travel from Ossipee to Laconia, Wolfeboro, and North Conway. There would be four round trips per day from Ossipee to North Conway and Wolfeboro. There would be two round trips between Ossipee and Laconia. With advance notice, buses could deviate from their path by a quarter mile to accommodate a rider. The buses would run from about 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Each route is projected to have 17,000 riders annually, according to Raymond.

The Carroll County Transit Project will also have demand response services, which allows for people to request a ride if 24-hour notice is given, said Raymond.

Volunteer drivers will be called on when buses are unavailable to serve a demand response requests, said Raymond. In addition, volunteers would also be asked to drive people to medical appointments to places outside the county such as to Portland, Maine.

Volunteer drivers would use their own cars and will be compensated at the rate of 48 cents per mile. Drivers would have to pass a background check that covers their driving record and criminal history, said Raymond.

The Carroll County Transit Project took another step forward earlier this month when Ted LaLiberte was hired as the transit project's system manager, said Raymond.

LaLiberte will be responsible for administration and will serve as liaison between the transit project and officials in the local communities. He might also have to drive a spare bus to a driver in the event of a breakdown, said Raymond.

LaLiberte is a 21year resident of Madison with 30 years of experience driving commercial vehicles. Most recently, LaLiberte worked as director of activities and children's skiing at Purity Springs in Madison. While at Purity Springs, one of his responsibilities was driving guests.

Prior to working at Purity Springs, LaLiberte coordinated transportation for YMCAs in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Laconia.

"I'm excited to step into this project," said LaLiberte. "There is a great need for (public) transportation."

Funding to sustain the bus system would come from several sources including advertising, fares, and grants. Advertisements could be pasted inside and outside of the buses, said Raymond.

"They would be moving bill boards," she said.

Tri-County Cap also received a $129,655 grant from the Endowment for Health, of Concord. The Endowment's grant money will help with administration costs, said Raymond.

"From a funder's point of view, we feel that the Carroll County Transportation project is making excellent progress," wrote Jeanne Ryer of the Endowment for Health. "The communities clearly want more transportation options in the county."

Ryer stated there are several reasons for wanting more public transportation, which include: jobs, tourism, access for seniors and others who can't drive, and economic pressures from higher gas prices.

The Endowment for Heath is interested in overcoming the impact of geographic isolation on people's ability to have a healthy life, Ryer wrote.

North Country Transit already offers a bus route between Berlin and Gorham and demand response service in that region and the newest system, called the Tri-Town, runs buses between Littleton, Lancaster, and Whitefield. The Tri-Town started in 2006. It tripled its ridership in 18 months, said Raymond.

Riders of the existing systems come from every demographic. Riders may range from elderly people needing to get to medical appointments to youth football players that need a ride to their game. Others take the bus to work.

"We feel confident that we can serve Carroll County," said Raymond.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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