The Greater New Haven Transit District is likely no longer providing a service to take the elderly in West Haven to and from doctors’ appointments and the senior center.
Executive Director Kimberly Dunham said the city hasn’t opted to continue the $177,282 contract that expired June 30 of this year. The transit company received a transit voucher through July 20 but no contract has been renewed, so it also became the last day of service.
About 50 residents are impacted, Dunham said.
Under the most recent contract, the service would take seniors to the doctor, which would cost $1 each way, and to the senior center free of charge, according to Dunham.
“We’re concerned because this was potentially a loss of a vital transportation service that improves the quality of life of seniors in the area and their ability to get out,” Dunham said.
But she added that other Greater New Haven Transit District Services are available, provide the same services and cover several of those customers. One is for those who qualify under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The other is a regional rides program that fills up quickly. Both come with a higher price tag of $3.50 per ride or a prepaid ticket from a ticket book costs $2.80, Dunham said.
She said her team has been talking to residents about these options along with outside transportation service option.
West Haven Mayor Nancy Rossi said the city is in a major deficit and under the watch of the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB). One stipulation is that contracts need to go out for bid.
Since the Greater New Haven Transit District gets federal funding, it is excluded from the bidding process, Rossi added.
“We’re in a deficit and it’s a sad situation. It isn’t fun,” Rossi said. “That’s why we had to do furlough days, that’s why we had to cancel the Savin Rock Festival, that’s why we had to collect for the fireworks and the list goes on and on and on.”
She understands costs are going up, too. Right now Dattco is stepping in so senior bus service to medical appointments is uninterrupted starting Monday.
In a statement from the mayor, for this coming week, the city was able to waive the $2-per-rider-fee for next week’s trips.
Cliff Gibson, a spokesperson for Dattco, said there’s no contract currently, but the company is helping out for the time being.
Rossi said the city is working on a long-term contract for the future.