Save the Bus

bus1Many area people depend on the Community Alliance Transportation buses to get to their doctor, state offices, and stores.  This service is scheduled to end on September 9th unless a new entity can be found to take it over.  It isn’t a matter of money.  Many Sullivan County towns contribute funds, and we provide a county grant as well.  The service is just no longer viable as a standalone entity.

NHDOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan and others are working on finding a new provider.  Commissioner Sheehan said that one of the needed tools to make this happen is show support and commitment.  I asked her how… should we write letters?  She said yes.  I asked who we send them to.  She said to send them to her.  So, if you think the bus is worth saving, please write a short, simple letter saying that to:

Commissioner Victoria Sheehan
John O. Morton Building
PO Box 483 | 7 Hazen Drive
Concord, New Hampshire 03302-0483

In addition to the elderly and disabled who depend on this service (and the volunteer driver program), think a scenario where someone loses their license for being under the influence of drugs.  To avoid prison, we will require them to go to treatment, appointments, and maintain a job.  It is entirely possible that without this transportation, they will go to jail instead.  We have to do better.

I have pointed out that it will be difficult to express serious support and commitment from Sullivan County unless our largest municipality, and only city is on board.  Small towns like Charlestown, Newport, and several others contribute funds to CATS.  The people riding the bus go to Claremont stores, doctors, and businesses.  Claremont does not contribute to the funding.

I pointed this out at a public meeting and was accused of “picking on Claremont”.  The gentleman then said that instead, we should go to Claremont businesses to solicit support for the bus.  That is half a good idea.  I agree that this should be done and support the idea.  The word “instead” is the problem.  It does not absolve Claremont of its responsibility to contribute to a service that benefits it.

It is time for Claremont to make a choice… a choice that may decide the fate of bus service in Sullivan County.  The way forward must include Claremont.  Please, write to the City Council.  Write to the Mayor.  Call them.  Tell them that Claremont should accept the responsibility that other cities do, and realize that supporting their infrastructure is important, and ultimately benefits them.  I realize that budget processes probably preclude them from making a financial commitment right now, as the towns have.  They can send a letter to Commissioner Sheehan pledging to take it up at the next appropriate meeting.

It is in your hands.  Spread the word.


About Rep. Steven Smith

Steven Smith is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, serving his 7th term. Rep. Smith currently represents Charlestown, Newport, and Unity. Rep. Smith is the Deputy Speaker of the NH House.
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