On June 12, Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) management and I, as a Commissioner for Shelburne on the CCTA Board, appreciated the opportunity to report back to the Selectboard on transit changes implemented since January 2012 that resulted in a decrease in Shelburne’s FY14 CCTA fees. This letter addresses what one Selectboard member characterized as “premium services to the Wake Robin community under the umbrella of federally mandated SSTA [sic] stipulations.”
Before 2010 American with Disabilities Act (ADA) transportation costs remained steady. Therefore, CCTA continued the nationwide best practice of offering an ADA span of service all day to best serve seniors and the disability community, including hours when the fixed route did not run. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) held a certain expectation that transit agencies would take this approach.
Since 2010, nearly all of our nation’s transit agencies with paratransit requirements faced significant cost spikes from higher ADA ridership. With DOT’s approval, best practices for paratransit service provision changed to limit ADA transportation only to hours when the fixed route operates.
In the face of budget pressures last year, CCTA altered its approach by eliminating mid-day ADA service in Shelburne when the Route 7 bus does not run. This change primarily impacted Wake Robin and reduced the Town of Shelburne’s projected CCTA member fees by roughly $5,000 for FY14. Between FY12 and FY13, the Town’s CCTA member fees increased by $7,000, not $60,000 as the article stated. The $5,000 decrease in FY14 will partially mitigate the $7,000 increase. CCTA also adopted other procedures to reduce costs and deliver services more efficiently.
CCTA invites questions and external analysis of our ridership data, which is reported to and regularly reviewed by the Federal Transit Administration. Annual fixed-route ridership is calculated based on reports generated through the computerized farebox system on CCTA buses. To provide additional detail, CCTA hires an independent consultant annually to count boardings and de-boardings by individual stop, which is known as a ridecheck. The ridecheck data is then used to calculate the level of ridership within a particular municipality or along a specific route segment.
Shelburne’s membership fees to CCTA are not based on ridership, but rather are based on the hours of service operated within the town. CCTA has not increased the number of fixed route service hours billed to Shelburne since it began using service hours as the basis for the fee in 2007.
CCTA looks forward to continuing this important discussion and providing the Selectboard with more information as needed. I also expect to be engaged with CCTA management, including our new General Manager Bill Watterson, concerning decisions that directly impact services for Shelburne residents.
Denis Barton, Shelburne
Shelburne Representative to CCTA’s Board of Commissioners