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Tamworth residents support new bus system

June 03, 2010
TAMWORTH — A small group of residents reacted favorably to Carroll County Transit's plan to bring public transportation to the area, but one resident questioned whether the program would be sustainable in this economic downturn.

CCT travel trainer Brad Wallace explained what CCT will be offering in the near future at a public forum held at Cook Memorial Library on May 25. About a half dozen people attended.

CTT will provide four transportation services: The first is a public bus route, the second is a commuter route that makes two round trips to Laconia, the third is a demand response service that functions somewhat like a taxi service, and the fourth is a long distance medical transportation service.

Carroll County's new bus system will not begin on July 1, as organizers had anticipated. That's because the large amount of buses being ordered across the country through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has created a backlog for manufacturers, according to System Manager Ted LaLiberte. ARRA has provided CCT with money for eight buses, which were in production last week.

Tamworth resident Melody Bergman said CCT's bus system sounded good. Bergman said it would come in handy for her since she works in North Conway.

"This is fantastic," said Bergman. "I'm going to save so much money on gas and car repairs."

But another resident, Ann McGarity, said it seems like the service would rely heavily on government subsidies — which are dwindling.

"The state is cutting down on practically everything in terms of social services," said McGarity. "Why is this going to be any different?"

Wallace replied that much of CCT' funding sources are through the state and local governments. Although CCT will have to reapply for money every year, funding isn't likely to ever be shut off entirely because there is a great need for public transportation in the area. CTT has about six different funding sources, he said.

Also, CCT's parent organization, Tri-County Community Action, has been successful at operating a transit system in other areas of New Hampshire for years, said Wallace. Tri-CAP runs similar services in Berlin and Gorham. It also has another transportation system that operates from Lancaster to Littleton.

Wallace said another reason the state is unlikely to cut funding for CCT is because public transportation will give the economy a boost, which will generate tax revenue in the long run.

"Maybe... people will be saving money on transportation so there will be increase spending in the areas that the bus is going by" said Wallace. "Any area that we've already been running the service, we've had increased business and ridership."

Although McGarity had some concerns about the program's feasibility, she indicated that she's rooting for it to succeed.

"I'm in favor of public transportation. I wouldn't drive if I didn't have to," said McGarity. "But I do have fear based on the economy."

Public bus route

During the workweek, the public transit route will run from West Ossipee to North Conway and Wolfeboro. Public transit riders will be able to get from North Conway to Wolfeboro for $3, which includes a $1 transfer fee. Riders wishing to make a round trip from Ossipee to Wolfeboro or North Conway would pay $2 for the round trip. Riders can flag a driver down at any safe spot along the route, said Wallace.

Disabled riders may ask the driver to deviate from the route by a quarter of a mile. Summer youth passes will also be available. Young people will be able to ride the bus all summer long for $25. Thirty and 10-day passes will be available too.

All the stops are located at stores with overhangs — to protect people from inclement weather while they wait. For example, the stop in West Ossipee will be located at McDonald's. Other drivers won't have to worry about getting stuck behind the buses when they stop because people will enter and exit the buses in parking lots and not along the road. The public transportation buses will have 22 seats and two wheelchairs spots. There will be room for 32 people when standing room is considered.

Commuter route

The commuter route will leave the McDonalds in West Ossipee at 6:30 a.m. and return around 9:10 a.m. An afternoon trip will leave the McDonalds in West Ossipee at 3:15 p.m. and return at 6:10 p.m. No reservations are needed. The fare for this service is $2 for a round trip.

Demand response

This will be a shuttle service that will bring people anywhere they want to go within a service area. The service areas are the Conway area, the Tamworth area, and the Wolfeboro area. Rides should be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. The fare for in town trips is $3.

Riders who are disabled or over 60 years old may give a donation in lieu of paying the fare — or Medicaid may cover up to two round trips per day. Riders can use the demand response service to get to the public bus route. The demand response vehicles will have eight seats and have room for two wheel chairs.

Long distance medical

This service offers long distance transportation for people over the age of 60 who need to get to medical appointments. Volunteers will do the driving for this service, which is funded by in part by the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services. The suggested donation is $15 per hour.

Riders, who cannot afford the fare, may make a donation instead. Medicaid may cover the cost of this service as well.

General info

Wheelchair lifts are available on all the buses. An adult must accompany children who are 10 years old or younger. Service animals and personal care attendants are welcome. All buses will have wheelchair lifts. Buses will also be equipped with bike racks on a seasonal basis.

Firearms are not allowed on the vehicles, said Wallace. The transit system is closed on all major holidays.

"We're a nonprofit organization, we're not trying to make money on this," said Wallace. "We're just trying to get people where they need to go."

For more information about CCT call 323-8150.

Martin Lord & Osman
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