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Forum to present Regional Public Transportation Plan

September 22, 2010
PLYMOUTH—Members of the public are encouraged to attend one of two critically important public forums on regional transportation issues scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 29 at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center on Green Street in Plymouth.

The first session will be held at 1 p.m., to be followed by an evening session at 7 p.m.

The purpose of these meetings is to solicit feedback and input from community members on the preliminary draft Transit Feasibility Study Report recently completed by the prominent national transportation planning consulting firm of Nelson/Nygaard Associates.

The year-long study, commissioned locally by North Country Council and Transport Central and paid for by a federal transportation grant, provides comprehensive documentation of transportation needs, existing resources and recommendations for phasing in a regional public transportation system for the 19-town area surrounding Plymouth, ranging from Bristol and New Hampton in the south to Lincoln and Woodstock in the north.

Consultants from Nelson/Nygaard have conducted a thorough study of area demographics, employment patterns, and land use trends, as well as an inventory of transportation needs, challenges and opportunities. They have conducted stakeholder interviews, an employer survey, an area residents survey and an inventory of existing resources to arrive at a plan for improving and expanding transportation options in the region.

Consultants will be on hand to present their results and recommendations and to hear from members of the public with an interest, need or concern about public transportation. The plan is intended to serve as the first step along the path of phasing in a comprehensive public transportation system in the region over the next decade. Nelson/Nygaard has also begun the process of identifying strategies and a number of potential funding sources for the envisioned transportation network.

Their recommendations, designed to dovetail with statewide efforts to provide expanded regional transportation options, seek to capitalize on and expand the extensively used network of senior transportation services already provided by the Grafton County Senior Service, student services provided Plymouth State University and employer based programs from several large commercial establishments in the area.

In consultation with representatives from Transport Central and North Country Council, Nelson/Nygaard is recommending a comprehensive, phased approach to building a community transportation network.

The first step would be to hire a "Mobility Manager" to create "one-stop shopping" for transportation referrals and services and to coordinate the efficient use of existing resources.

The Mobility Manager would develop flexible transportation services requiring minimal capital investment, including volunteer driver, taxi voucher and rideshare programs that could be implemented quickly.

The second phase envisions the creation and coordination of demand response "Dial-A-Ride" programs with two possible routes: a northern district to include Campton, Thornton, Ellsworth, Rumney, Woodstock and Plymouth, and a southwest district to include Hebron, Groton, Dorchester, Alexandria, Ashland, Bristol, New Hampton and Plymouth.

A subsequent goal might be to create a "fixed- route" system linking these communities, with Plymouth serving as a hub for shopping and community services. Then, ultimately, the objective would be to develop an "out of region" system, primarily to link Plymouth to major shopping and medical service centers at Dartmouth Hitchcock in Lebanon, Concord and Laconia.

More information, including a copy of the draft final report, is available from the Transport Central Web site at www.transportcenteral.org, by calling 536-4101 or by e-mail from info@transportcentral.org.

Martin Lord Osman
Brewster Academy
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