To the Editor:
This letter is in response to the letter submitted by Susanna J. Sturgis on behalf of the Coalition to Restore Vineyard Transportation. I am a recent member of the VTA advisory board representing the town of Tisbury, and have been actively engaged this year in the dynamics affecting the VTA and, therefore, the entire Island.
Susanna’s letter implies that as a result of the coalition’s efforts, the VTA made adjustments to the schedule and restored all the services. I respectfully disagree. The reason for the restored services was due to the diligent effort of the management team at the VTA, who over the past months have reviewed the budgets and spent an enormous amount of time adjusting the operations of the routes, taking into consideration the hourly ridership on each route, and feedback from drivers and passengers.
They have developed a winter schedule that reduced layovers and deviates more than the standard fixed-route system and demand response/ADA system to allow for more flexibility. All of this resulted in keeping the most popular routes intact.
The management team at the VTA has provided excellent services for over 20 years. They have procured grants for electric buses, they have fought for funding at the state level, and have been successful even though coming from a small, isolated community, they compete against large transit authority systems in the large cities of the commonwealth for the same dollars.
The creation of the coalition this year is another voice to be heard on issues related to public bus service now and in the future. Do not, however, minimize the efforts of the VTA. They are a hardworking group supporting their mission statement of providing the best transportation system for our Islanders and tourists, while having respect for their drivers in the scheme of the work that needs to be done, as well as meeting the requirements of the federal and state governments that provides about half of the operating funds. Perhaps this has been a best-kept secret.
I acknowledge that nothing is perfect; some adjustments need to be made, and will be made. It takes time and patience, and is best achieved with the cooperation of all involved. The VTA is not inventing or restoring a damaged system. They are rather bridging an existing system that has served our community well. Yes, this year they had a bump in the road, but they are moving back on track to make an already good organization even better.
I encourage the coalition to have their voices heard. But in the course of doing so, do not minimize the efforts of the VTA.