Transportation service is seeking town funding

WILTON — In March, the “blue bus” of Souhegan Valley Rides made its first forays into Wilton to assist those who are unable to drive, with transportation to medical appointments or shopping trips to any of the towns the blue bus serves. Funding for the service in Wilton has been provided by local nonprofit organizations, but the town may have to decide whether it will take on the cost for the next budget year.

Since March, Janet Langdell of Souhegan Valley Rides told the Select Board at its Monday meeting, the bus has provided 34 rides to Wilton residents. Despite it being a new service for that town, that is fairly comparable to towns of similar size, she said. The low-cost transportation service is a grassroots organization.

Funding for the first year of the bus’ service to Wilton have been covered by the Milford Rotary and the Wilton Lions Club, explained Langdell, but usually such groups are useful for one-time projects, such as the piloting program to see if the bus was a service that the town would use, but are not generally relied upon for year-to-year support.

Select Board member Rick Swanson asked what the cost for Wilton’s continued use of Souhegan Valley Rides would be. Langdell replied that the number is partially based off the overall usage of the service by its various towns, but in the past, towns such as Hollis and Brookline, which are comparable to Wilton, have paid between $1,500 and $3,000 for the service.

Select Board Chair Bill Condra said that he thought the service was a valuable one, noting that he had accompanied the bus on its first ride to Nashua with a Wilton resident. “The woman picked up couldn’t say enough about how happy she was she didn’t have to go pound on someone’s door to give her a ride. We just picked her up,” he said.

Langdell noted that all of the rides Souhegan Valley Rides has provided for Wilton so far have been to medical appointments to Nashua or Milford, and she hopes to eventually get more people invested in using the bus for their other transportation needs.

The Select Board will take the request for funding under advisement.

Souhegan Valley Rides serves Amherst, Brookline, Hollis Milford, Mont Vernon and Wilton. It can provide transportation to destinations in those towns and Nashua. Langdell said the service cannot provide transportation to Peterborough or Manchester for medical appointments, but can assist in coordinating with other transportation services who can assist with that.

Following the meeting, the board approved the appointment of Martha Greene to be Wilton’s representative to Souhegan Valley Rides.

The bus service is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is prioritized for elderly residents, people with disabilities, or those unable to drive. Other residents may use the service as space is available. Rides are available for medical appointments, social service appointments, senior activity centers, local town facilities and libraries and for shopping. For more information, visit www.SouheganValleyRides.org, email info@SouheganValleyRides.or, or call 673-8482. To register for the service of schedule a ride, call 880-0100 ext. 1.

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