Keep the buses rolling

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To the Editor:

My wife and I are writing to your paper once again to express our thoughts on our recent trip back to the Island concerning the ongoing VTA bus struggle. We have returned many times since our last letter, which supported the striking drivers and our subsequent boycott of the buses. When the strike was thankfully settled, we were glad to be able to return to ridership, and had hoped that everything would be better moving forward. While on-Island this past weekend for my 60th birthday and riding on the VTA buses, we observed firsthand the impending and controversial winter schedule.
We rode from Tisbury to visits in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Aquinnah during our two days there, and it was great to see the Island in the off-season as well as enjoy being driven by the drivers, with whom we are well acquainted. I will not go on about the money, the management/employee discord, or why ridership is down. What we did notice as passengers was our fellow passengers. They were mostly Islanders going from home to work or whatever interactions they were traveling to/from. Some have disabilities and are unable to drive themselves. Others choose the buses to avoid the pricey taxis and Uber. This is a year-round situation for these fare payers. I cannot imagine what will happen to them if the routes are eliminated. The drivers genuinely care about their passengers. To watch the polite exchanges between drivers and riders as they get on and off is pleasurable.
Obviously, during this time of year there aren’t as many people riding the buses, and we personally aren’t planning on returning now that the unfavorable weather is upon us, except to hopefully go back for the Christmas weekend we have heard about. We really hope that something productive can be done for those who live on or travel to the Island and need the buses to get around. I have read and heard about smaller buses and special schedules for the winter routes, and hope something good happens to make the months ahead tolerable. It should not be that big of a deal. 

Wayne and Melanie Kellum
Mattapoisett