Township adjusting bus routes
Looks to hire bus driver to return to five-day-a-week schedule


Tom Saitta, left, and Christopher DelCampo have to wait for the next bus back to Bald Eagle Commons. Two bus loads came to the township meeting two weeks ago to speak about transportation in the township. They're getting results.

BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK
WEST MILFORD — Two weeks ago, a large group of senior citizens came to the township council to make their case as to why the new three-day-a-week bus schedule was insufficient.
They certainly made an impact.
Last week the council vowed to find the funding and personnel necessary to return the transportation back to the 2016 level of five days a week.
In the meantime, the routing will soon change to accommodate the riders from Bald Eagle Commons.
Three days didn't workThe township went to a three-day-a-week schedule beginning in January, 2017, after losing a federal grant that provided the bulk of the funds for the bus. Community Services and Recreation Director Tim Roetman put together the three-day play in an attempt to salvage the much-needed transportation system that is open to all but used primarily by senior citizens in the township. The program would run on the township’s portion of just under $37,000, the amount left after the federal government pulled its share of approximately $110,000.
But it wasn’t working. Residents of Bald Eagle Commons, who are the bulk of the ridership, complained that the route was too long, leaving them riding around the township with no one getting on or off the bus.
A new planRoetman went back to the drawing board. After the residents voiced their opinions, the council agreed to find an additional $26,000 in the 2017 budget for the transportation program to return to five days a week. But that will take time. Roetman is looking for an additional bus driver to drive the two extra days each week, Tuesday and Thursday, at a rate of pay between $18 and $24 per hour, based on experience. The driver must have a CDL license with a “P” (passenger) endorsement.
Before that, though, Roetman said the routing will be changed so that there are more stops in Bald Eagle Commons to meet the demands of the ridership. A stop in Awosting that was added this year will be discontinued since it is not utilized. However, anyone in the township not on the regular route may call the township to request that the bus stop and pick them up. This new three-day-a-week schedule will begin on Monday, Feb. 27 (see box).
The new schedule has the bus returning directly to Bald Eagle in the late morning after pick up at ShopRite. Each one-way ride is $1.
“The plan is to try and go back to five days a week as soon as possible,” said Roetman. “We have to find a bus driver with the correct credentials and run a background check. It will take a little time. As soon as we hire a driver, we will make an announcement returning to five days per week.”