Possible termination of Norwalk Community College bus route prompts outcry

Photo of Emily Morgan

NORWALK — The city’s community college is calling upon the transit district to not cancel the shuttle that provides a convenient route between the school and the South Norwalk train station.

“SAVE THE NCC SHUTTLE!” the Norwalk Community College posted on its Facebook page on Thursday.

The school wrote in its post that the Norwalk Transit District is considering the elimination of the shuttle which “has served thousands of NCC students over the years and has been a fast and convenient addition to the NTD’s regular bus service.”

The NCC Committee for Active and Responsible Environment Sustainability, chaired by professor Robert Emigh, believes the shuttle’s elimination “would be a great disservice to the NCC community.”

A quarter of the students at NCC depend on public transportation to attend classes.

In a letter to state Rep. Terrie Wood, the committee argued the termination of the NCC shuttle would “disproportionally hurt those who have the least financial resources and, in particular, our students of color.” It also wrote that the shuttle’s elimination would discourage financially challenged students from enrolling at the college, which would lead to lower enrollment.

The shuttle’s service is under a temporary suspension due to COVID-19, according to the Norwalk transit website. WHEELS Routes 11 and 13 are suggested as alternates to the shuttle.

The NCC CARES and the Norwalk Transit District collaborated in 2009 to establish the shuttle and services began in the spring of 2010, according to Emigh. While operating, the shuttle runs every 40 minutes, and times were coordinated with the Metro-North train schedules.

“In the past, there were many student complaints that just as the No. 11 bus was pulling into the station, the Metro-North train was leaving, so they were stuck waiting for the next train,” Emigh said.

According to Emigh, the transit district is pointing to low ridership numbers as the reason for the possible shuttle elimination, but he argues those numbers will go back up once full classes resume on campus, hopefully as soon as this spring.

“Naturally, ridership has dipped during the pandemic, but as the college schedule more on-ground courses in the spring and beyond, we anticipate ridership will return to normal levels,” Emigh said.

NCC CARES has distributed a petition urging the transit district not to eliminate the shuttle. As of Friday afternoon, more than 120 people had signed it.

The committee is also asking the school community to contact the transit district’s CEO Kimberlee Morton to voice their concerns.

Morton and the Norwalk Transit District did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

emily.morgan@hearstmediact.com