Winnipesaukee Transit System discontinues scheduled routes

LACONIA — The Winnipesaukee Transit System will end its regularly scheduled bus routes as of July 1 due to the lack of matching funds from communities it presently serves.

Only Laconia and Tilton, both of which contribute $3,000 a year, are providing matching funds for the program according Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Program Transportation Director Jim Sudak. He said that the program is funded with a $36,000 grant from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation, which requires a 20 percent match from local funds.

He said that ridership on the regularly scheduled routes is only 20 to 25 people a day, and that most of those are elderly and disabled people going to medical facilities or shopping centers. Cost is $1 per ride.

Sudak said current users will still be able to obtain rides through the CAP's Rural Transportation Program, a door-to-door service for senior citizens with disabilities. Those rides must be scheduled 24 hours in advance by calling 225-3295.

CAP succeeded the Greater Laconia Transit Authority in June 2005. CAP also operates the Concord Area Transit as well as the Rural Transportation Program.

Several years ago, due to a federal budget cut which reduced the Winnipesaukee Transit System grant from $85,000 to $42,400, the WTSl eliminated Saturday service and combined the two Laconia routes into one. As part of the reduction, there was no longer any service from Franklin to Laconia, nor any service to parts of Gilford and Belmont.

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