DASH – Bedford’s New Local Bus Service Off to a Good Start

The DASH, parked behind Old Town Hall – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

By Meredith McCulloch

Launched in mid-September, the first quarterly report on Bedford’s new local door-to-door bus service – DASH -was presented to the Selectmen on December 19 by Carla Olson of Healthy Bedford. The report was positive. The service is growing at a steady pace and we are pleased to be able to help residents meet their transportation needs,” Olson commented to The Bedford Citizen. DASH is a dial-a-ride service that can be booked ahead weekdays from noon to 6 pm. The van accommodates wheelchairs.

Because the contract for DASH includes a dispatcher, information about ridership is solid. It is also easier to collect information about rider’s needs. Due to multiple requests, stops in Lexington have been added. It should be noted that Bedford’s original local bus service, the BLT (Bedford Local Transit) is still in operation and complements the DASH schedule. (See https://www.bedfordma.gov/council-on-aging/pages/bedford-local-transit)

During the first 2-1/2 months of service the rider statistics show that DASH is serving the population forecast as most in need of transportation options – the elderly and teenagers.  Selectman Margot Fleischman described the use, “It’s exciting to see this project get up and running!  I’m particularly pleased by the level of detailed data on how the Dash is being used thus far. Ridership is particularly strong among seniors and youth, and while we thought that the demand would be there, it’s still really gratifying to know that the Dash is meeting a need for these age groups, and that the people who most need it are beginning to discover how the service can help them.”

The statistics show that passengers over 65 made up the largest group of riders (71) with riders under 19 years  (66) and in the 56-64 age category (67) close behind.

Many trips originate from the central “town campus,” picking up at the Council on Aging, the high school, the middle school, and the public library.   Alison Cservenschi, Director of the Council on Aging commented, “Many seniors use the BLT in town for local shopping trips, hairdressers, local medical rides and more. The Dash adds additional locations including Emerson and Lahey that are frequented.”

Cservenschi explained “We hope that more people will take advantage of this new service, especially in the winter as the snow sets in, and enjoy the benefits of door to door rides in and around town.  I would also like to see more seniors who use wheelchairs take advantage of the Dash.  Being home can be very isolating and lonely.  At the COA we have lots of programs available as well as socialization and meals.  The BLT can be the way to the COA in the morning and the Dash can be the ride home at the end of the day!”

Economic Development Coordinator Alyssa Sandoval saw the economic benefits, “From an economic development perspective, the Dash is another boost to the local economy by giving residents and employees easier access to local businesses and services.”

In November a fixed lunchtime route service on Great Road was added. It runs on Fridays from 12 noon to 2 pm. The hope is that this service will reduce traffic by providing an option other than one passenger in one car on a crowded road.

To book a ride call 781-275-DASH (3274) Monday through Friday between 8:30 am and 4 pm or use the Contact Us link at www.bedforddash.com.

For more information see https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2016/09/bedfords-dash-begins-its-dial-a-ride-pilot-program/

Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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