Shuttle service takes shape for summer

Thu, 03/25/2021 - 5:30pm

Members of the Commission on Motor Vehicles for Hire and town taxi license holders continued their discussions with the Town Council on Wednesday, March 17 on a new shuttle program for the coming summer season.

The MVFH met earlier in the morning to prepare for the council’s discussion, and approved two motions: one to approve the plans for the pilot shuttle program, and one to recommend the council change restrictions on passenger capacity from 11 to 14 passengers (not including the driver).

“We put together what we feel is going to be a successful program,” said MVFH Chair Brad Marthens. “We are looking for proposing two full-time shuttles that would start working on a 30-minute, round-trip basis starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 5 p.m. each day, going from Old Harbor to New Harbor,” and then back from New Harbor to Old Harbor.

The first shuttle will operate outbound starting in town by Nicholas Ball Park, and the second shuttle will operate inbound starting at Champlin’s roundabout. Designated stops for the shuttles include town, Fred Benson Town Beach, Payne’s Dock, the Boat Basin, and Champlin’s Marina.

The plan is to start operating the shuttle in late June and end in early September.

Addressing the increase in passenger capacity, Town Councilor Keith Stover said: “I want to make sure we are within our statutory authority to do things like expand capacity numbers,” referring to the ongoing Covid pandemic.

“As far as an ordinance change from 11 to 14 – we can’t go over 15,” responded Marthens. “I would be shocked if we can’t do the 14.”

Second Warden Sven Risom added that Marthens should consider making minor adjustments or revisions as needed.

“I think there’s got to be some quick reviews after two weeks of running it, or some periods of evaluation – just making sure little tweaks don’t need to be made to it. There’s going to be minor adjustments along the way,” said Risom.

“Anything like this will be looked at on an ongoing basis – tweaks and changes,” answered Marthens.

First Warden André Boudreau asked the council: “Where do you want to go from here?”

Risom suggested Town Manager Maryanne Crawford, Marthens, and “the team” meet to change the ordinance governing capacity and then send it for legal review by Town Solicitor Kathy Merolla.

Crawford said she would try to get the ordinance prepared for the council’s next meeting.