No VTA service for Lambert’s Cove, North roads

While service is better than expected some routes are still non-existent.

4
West Tisbury selectmen want to see some VTA service return to Lambert's Cove Road and North Road.

With concerns about cuts to Vineyard Transit Authority bus routes, VTA administrator Angela Grant went before the West Tisbury board of selectmen Wednesday evening to let selectmen know service won’t be as bad as originally thought, but there is still no service on Lambert’s Cove Road or North Road.

Routes 3 and 5 have several trips, and up-Island service has more trips than originally anticipated, according to Grant. “There is no service on North Road or Lambert’s Cove Road this year. So that is nonexistent this year,” Grant said.

Grant said it’s a “tradeoff” with transit scheduling. “We went back to the way we used to do it, which is not smooth headways, schedule’s a little bit harder to read, but it’s servicing more of the Island, and, you know, getting a better bang for our buck,” Grant said.

She added that the VTA walks a “really fine line” with the state, which controls a lot of their funding.

Selectman Jeffrey (“Skipper”) Manter said there were still concerns from West Tisbury constituents, and told Grant it would be nice to see some service return to North Road and Lambert’s Cove Road.

“I know it’s strictly a funding issue … but perhaps if you put a plan together to make up for some of these funding losses,” Manter said. “I think it would be nice to see some service. A trip in the morning, a trip in the afternoon.”

Grant said she will talk to state-level funding partners about having local towns offer funding for additional service, if they want to.

The VTA saw a 15 percent decline in ridership through the first third of its fiscal year, which includes July, August, September, and October, compared with the previous year. Echoing her comments from a VTA advisory board meeting last month, Grant said dips in ridership are due to the VTA drivers’ strike this summer, rideshare apps Uber and Lyft, and a nationwide decline in ridership. Revenue, however, is not down, due to two fare increases.

Grant said it was difficult to compare October numbers from last year, because of the two nor’easters, but there was a positive sign in November, because ridership was only down 3 percent from the previous year, with a reduced schedule.

Susanna Sturgis, a member of the Coalition to Restore Vineyard Transportation, was also at the meeting, and shared several suggestions for improvements she wanted to see at the VTA, including restoration of service, more transparency regarding service changes, advisory board meetings announced in advance, MVTV recording at VTA advisory board meetings, driver representation on the VTA advisory board, and support from selectmen. “We’d really like to see the selectmen of the various towns taking a more active interest,” Sturgis said.

Manter suggested Sturgis get on the next VTA advisory board meeting agenda and present her suggestions.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Furlough some of the office staff for the season and bring back a driver or two to cover the routes. The ration of admin/drivers is out of whack.

  2. West Tisbury selectmen have a voice on the VTA board. Their representative voted in favor of even more drastic cuts to their towns routes. If they are unhappy or feel their constituents aren’t being heard, they should start by taking a look at their own representative.

    • Voters shouldn’t let them off the hook because they give lip service, but offer nothing to solve the issue.

  3. Having spoken with several VTA drivers, I don’t believe that the service cuts are “strictly a funding issue” at all. For instance, a driver who knows Route 3 (Vineyard Haven–West Tisbury) well says that Lambert’s Cove Road (on Route 2, which has been cut for the winter) could be covered at key times by Route 3 buses without adding driver-hours. This is why the Coalition to Restore Vineyard Transportation (which I represented at this selectmen’s meeting) recommends that the drivers be consulted about all service changes and that a driver representative be added to the VTA Advisory Board. In making its cuts, the administration relies on statistics about ridership on each route, but it’s the drivers who know where and when most people get on and off.

    And btw, what Edgerton says above is absolutely true. I’m encouraged that the West Tisbury selectmen are taking some interest in up-island bus service, but Skipper Manter’s suggestion that I take the Coalition’s recommendations to the VTA Advisory Board ducks the larger issue entirely. If he’d attended any of the board’s meetings this past summer, he’d realize that several board members are well past their sell-by date and one of them was appointed by the WT selectmen. The newer members of the board, several of whom were only appointed this summer, are doing their best, but the Vineyard public would be better served if all six island towns were ably represented.

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