End to downtown RR shuttle bus prompts complaints
Updated 11:01 am, Monday, August 19, 2013
Several commuters are upset that a shuttle service, which has transported them from a satellite parking lot on Mill Plain Road to the downtown train station, has been discontinued.
The shuttle service ended in early July.
The sign at the parking lot's shelter, which lists the shuttle schedule, indicates the shuttle is only in service from September through May.
Placko said the panel may consider reinstituting the shuttle service in the fall if ridership demand increases.
The lot, which was originally built for the former factory across the street, has been used by fewer commuters since the opening of the Fairfield Metro station.
Last Friday, for instance, 12 vehicles were parked in the lot. The slots are used both by parking permit holders and day parkers.
But two commuters, who used the shuttle van to get from one side of the downtown train station to the other -- not to travel back and forth from the satellite lot, want to see the service restored.
"How will physically disabled people, who cannot climb the stairs, get from one side to the other?" asked Nepas Road resident William DeFazio, referring to the steep staircases to the Unquowa Road bridge that spans the depot's two passenger platforms.
In a June 25 letter to the Parking Authority, DeFazio said he is a 68-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran who depends on the shuttle five days a week to get from one side of the tracks to the other.
The downtown station, DeFazio said, is not handicapped accessible, a point also made by Easton resident Sally A. England in a June 21 letter to the agency.
"How will people, who cannot climb the stairs (72 steps), get from one side to the other?" England asked.
The fact that the downtown station is not handicapped accessible was one of the factors that influenced the decision to build the Fairfield Metro station, said Planning Director Joseph Devonshuk.
At the Metro depot, there are handicapped parking spaces on the New York-bound side of the station, as well as elevators to take train riders to the walkway to the other side of the depot.
England admits that the Fairfield Metro station is 1.5 miles closer to her home, but since there are no public restrooms there, "I am forced to park at the main station."
Both DeFazio and England have parking permits for the downtown station. The last two paragraphs of their letters to the Parking Authority are identical, and claim there was nothing posted at the station about the shuttle service ending and "no notices were mailed out to paying customers -- that is terrible customer service."
Orange signs, however, were posted on both sides of the tracks, outside and inside the waiting rooms, informing commuters the shuttle service would be discontinued as of July 5. The same sign was posted at the satellite lot shelter.
Devonshuk said the shuttle costs the Parking Authority about $3,000 a month.
A third commuter, Cynthia Greenleaf, emailed Placko to ask that since the shuttle was ended, if additional day parking slots could be opened on the New York side of the station. She said there appears to be about 10 to 15 other commuters who use the satellite lot on a regular basis.
She said she and her husband usually park their cars for several days at a time, but since there can be only one permit per household, her husband parks in the satellite lot.
"Since the permit parking slots on the New York side are rarely (never?) filled, could you designate some day parking slots in that lot close to the Mill Plain entrance (so as not to infringe on the permit parkers)?" Greenleaf wrote.
After 9 a.m., day parking is allowed in any open spot at the train station, even permit parking spots.
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