Salem board approves of CART’s attempts to improve serviceBy ADAM SWIFT
Union Leader Correspondent
April 13. 2015 11:27PM
SALEM — Town officials are pleased with recent steps taken by the Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation to improve its service.
Chief among those steps has been the hiring of Mark Nelson as the organization’s new executive director.
“I think Mr. Nelson has brought some good energy,” said Selectman Stephen Campbell. “I think the organization is heading in the right direction.”
Transportation services provided by CART are provided through a combination of federal and town funding through donor towns that include Chester, Derry, Hampstead and Londonderry, as well as Salem.
Salem is funding $47,000 of CART’s approximately $600,000 budget for the current year.
Beginning in June, Salem will also be the home base for CART, as the organization will be leasing space at the Town Hall. Currently, CART is based in Londonderry.
“It will be good economically and good for customer service,” said Nelson. “We will be more in touch with the people who use the service.”
The CART services are divided into a demand-response bus service that runs during the day on weekdays, a shopper shuttle, and a taxi voucher program for riders who have needs that are too early or late for the demand-response bus service.
The bus service is contracted out to Easter Seals in Manchester, and Nelson said the buses will continue to be based there. The Salem lease is for office space only.
“We are still running about 5,000 trips per year in Salem,” said Nelson. The majority of those trips are for the demand response, with about one-third for the shopper shuttle.
The greatest number of those trips are for medical appointments, but Nelson said there are also residents who use the service for social purposes such as going to the town’s senior center, as well as some who use it to get to work.
Nelson said he will be talking to the town’s housing authority in the near future to make sure the shopper shuttle is making the most efficient service routes.
Although Salem selectmen voted to fund the town’s portion of the CART budget, town officials in Derry have proposed cutting their funding for the program in the early stages of their budget preparations. Campbell said he hopes the town will continue to fund CART and that some other local towns might consider adding the service to create a greater economy of scale.