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March 28. 2013 9:58PM

2 Carroll County Transit bus routes go dark for now

The Carroll County Transit bus that runs from West Ossipee to North Conway, along with the bus that runs from West Ossipee to Wolfeboro, will cease operations, at least temporarily, as of 5 p.m. Friday.

Buses will still take passengers along a third route in Carroll County, from West Ossipee to Laconia.

In Grafton and Coos counties, the bus on the Saturday route between Whitefield, Lancaster and Littleton will not run until further notice.

Tri-County Community Action Program (TCCAP), which oversees the CCT system and North Country Transit system to the north and west, recently announced the changes, with officials stating that the suspensions were temporary, and due to the lack of funding and ridership.

The transportation services are partially state-funded, with monies coming from other sources, including TCCAP, for the rest of the operating expenses. Due to its present financial situation, the transit system's stakeholders are looking elsewhere to cover the shortfall.

The cutback does not affect the door-to-door service in some of Carroll County, which started operating in December 2010. The demand response service, or dial a ride, offers transportation to and from locations specific to the rider's request, within the system's service area. The door-to-door service requires 24-hour advance notice.

The Carroll County Transit Blue Loon buses started the regular public routes in January 2012. The transit system focuses on the transportation needs of elderly, disabled and low-income residents. The rural county has a large elderly population.

North Country Transit's Tri-Town bus will continue to run Monday through Friday, with the four daily runs taking riders from Shaw's in Lancaster to Wal-Mart in Littleton. Stops in-between include Weeks Hospital, King Square in Whitefield, the Community Building in Littleton, and Littleton Regional Hospital.

On the regular routes there are designated bus stops. However, riders can flag buses down and, with advance notification, drivers can go off the route a short distance to pick up or drop off passengers who are unable to make it to the stop.

This comes shortly before the residents of Conway cast their votes in the town's annual ballot voting on April 9. On the town's ballot is a petitioned article requesting $3,000 in support of Carroll County Transit's senior transportation. The article was not recommended by selectmen, but was endorsed by the Conway Municipal Budget Committee.

The senior wheels, ServiceLink services, and the Berlin-Gorham trolley are not affected by the route suspensions.

The Carroll County 16-passesnger wheel-chair accessible buses were bought with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The system was building up ridership.



syoungknox@newstote.com