Bedford Local Transit Use Maximized

Bedford Local Transit van behind Town Center Image (c) JMcCT 2013
Bedford Local Transit van behind Town Center Image (c) JMcCT 2013

By Meredith McCulloch

Use of the Bedford Local Transit (BLT) is close to maximum according to Lori Wittner, Director of the Council of Aging. Reporting to the Selectmen at a December 2 budget hearing , Wittner said seniors using the local bus make up a large part of the overall ridership, accounting for 5,373 out of a total of 5,652 riders in FY2013. Some non-senior adults have used the BLT for trips to out of town stores, such as Market Basket, but use of the bus by youths is down to zero, falling from 64 in 2011 to 0 in 2013.

“Most people using the service are seniors, so what is the rest of the population doing?” Wittner asked .“The population of adults who must or want to give up their licenses is growing. More people have stopped driving, and they are using our services more. Ridership numbers are down,” she said. “Because frankly, it takes seniors longer to get on and off the bus.  The driver will sometimes even help them with their groceries.”

Selectman Caroline Fedele commented, “People feel it is pretty difficult to access the BLT, because it is so well subscribed. Maybe that understanding is trickling down into the community and people don’t even try.”

Carleton-Willard Village has provided a grant that supports seniors’ individual trips to doctor appointments and to hospitals by taxi. This service is well used by seniors, including residents at Carleton-Willard, and has relieved some pressure on the BLT system.

When asked what she has seen happening with the youth, Sue Baldauf, Director of Youth and Family Services, said she hadn’t yet seen the statistics presented that night, but anecdotally she sees that, “Kids needing a ride home from counseling have a hard time getting a ride. Most of our clients that have used it have to either leave early or wait a long time to get back [home]. They usually make other arrangements.”

Rick Reed explained that in order to qualify for MBTA support, the BLT must have some fixed schedule, which limits the time available for door-to-door pickups.

For information about BLT services, see
https://www.bedfordma.gov/council-on-aging/pages/bedford-local-transit


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Dorothy Bergin
Dorothy Bergin
8 years ago

IN reading the above, it is very obvious that the BLT service needs to be upgraded. In scanning the recently-released Comprehensive Plan for Bedford, I noted this section:

“TR#13 Public information campaign for trip reduction & transit use: promote
promote local residents’ use of transit (MBTA, LRTA, school buses and BLT), as well as safe bicycling and walking routes…. ”

Adding a new BLT bus (or buses) with a lift to accommodate those having trouble getting into the vehicle would benefit both youth and seniors. I would gladly support this (with my tax dollars.)

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