Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments seeks funding to study area transit ridership, services

Norwich — The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments is exploring ways to fund a study on the Southeast Area Transit District's ridership and services. The study would determine, among other items, the transit district's service requirements and how much each of its routes is used.

The "Comprehensive Operational Analysis" would cost roughly $250,000, said council Executive Director James Butler.

The regional planning agency approved Wednesday applying for a funding opportunity that would use federal Surface Transportation Program money to cover 80 percent of the proposed study. The council voted to approve using $25,000 of its planning money for the survey. If the state approves the funding plan, the state Department of Transportation could also match the other $25,000.

The council will also continue to discuss other funding opportunities for the study with the DOT, which assumed management of the transit district this year. The regional planning agency also voted earlier this year to encourage its representatives to serve on SEAT's Board of Directors.

The DOT also announced that a 3.5 percent increase to all transit districts will likely help close SEAT's budget gap for Fiscal Year 2014.

"There was a general concern in the communities in the SEAT service area that the potential shortfall was going to dramatically reduce the level of service," said DOT Commissioner James Redeker in a DOT press release Tuesday. "Many residents and workers in this region depend on SEAT to get around, and their concerns are valid. I am happy to say that the needs were anticipated by the Department and that the funding increase will lessen the likelihood of service cuts or other negative impacts to our riders."

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