Phillipston eyeing switch from FRTA to MART

  • Carla Charter of Phillipston urged the Phillipston Selecboard to switch the senior transportation service from FRTA to MART at a recent meeting. ATHOL DAILY NEWS/DEBORRAH PORTER

Staff Writer
Published: 3/30/2018 11:56:03 PM
Modified: 4/1/2018 10:49:20 PM

PHILLIPSTON — The results of a townwide survey show the majority of residents would not use a van or other vehicle of transportation provided by the Council on Aging for doctor, dentist, eye care appointments or other necessities.

Carla Charter presented the results to the Selectboard this week; 45 residents answered “Yes,” and 241 said “No,” although, she said, a number of people who said they would not personally use the service said “they felt that we need it.”

Charter urged the selectmen to put a question on the warrant to switch the current service with FRTA (Franklin Regional Transit Authority) to MART (Montachusett Regional Transit Authority). She talked about regionalization with Templeton, which uses MART.

“If we hook up with MART we can join Templeton,” Charter said.

MART uses a dispatch center to send out its vans, which could be used for transport to grocery stores and appointments, social visits and activities including those hosted by the Templeton Council on Aging.

“Boston and Worcester transportation is also available,” Charter said. She noted, “Our town relies on volunteers. I feel without transportation we have a whole group of people who might otherwise be able to volunteers and benefit the town in some way.”

Currently, FRTA provides pickup at one bus stop — King Phillip Restaurant.

Chairman Thomas Brouillet was in favor of putting it on the town meeting warrant.

“Let the people vote on it,” he said.

According to the most recent census, there are 1,162 people under and 614 over the age of 55.

Finance Committee member Thomas Specht said the matter came before the committee the year before, and they would not support it without a cost.

“That’s the big issue — how much is it going to cost?” Specht said.

Charter said the cost is based per ride.

“Based on a population of 1,700 people and the number who will use it, there’s gotta be someone who can figure the cost,” Charter said.

Finance Committee member Kim Pratt suggested putting a question on the warrant to ask voters if they want to transfer from FRTA to MART, and then, take it from there. Charter said, “If we get an earmark, it will give us one year to figure out what it will cost.”

People who use the service give a donation. Selectmen were in favor of putting the question to voters, but, said Brouillet, “We need a little more research.”

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