LONDONDERRY — Town Councilor Joe Green says the town needs a supplemental transportation system to provide services to neglected elderly residents, and he's hoping people get a chance to consider the idea at next year's annual Town Meeting.
"It's a very, very important issues in the town of Londonderry," Green said Tuesday. "We're dealing with the very important needs of senior citizens."
At a recent meeting of the council, Green suggested town leaders consider establishing a municipally-owned and operated program to supplement the Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation (CART). The new system would use two transportation vans and volunteer drivers; it would be managed by staff members, he's suggested.
Green said today's senior citizens are used to being self-sufficient, so they may not be openly vocal about their complaints with CART's services.
"These guys are suffering silently," he said. "But I have constituents that are telling me that CART hasn't worked for them."
The complaints involve regularly scheduled CART trips to the Londonderry Senior Center, as well as individual trips for medical visits and service, said Green, who is the council's liaison to Londonderry's Senior Affair Committee.
However, Senior Affairs Director Maggie Blash, who manages the Londonderry Senior Center, said she's not heard any complaints about CART's services recently.
"A while back some of our people were having problems, but since Mark Nelson (who became CART's executive director last year) has taken over, things have improved," Blash said. "I haven't heard anything like that recently."
CART is a regional transportation service that also operates in Derry, Salem, Hampstead and Chester. The nonprofit organization works with Easter Seals of New Hampshire to provide riding services to residents for all kinds of reasons, including doctor visits, employment and shopping. Many senior citizens use the program because it's subsidized with government funds, so its fares are relatively inexpensive.
But it's not a "taxi service," as Nelson explained last week, and as Blash reiterated on Tuesday.
"It's not an on-call service, it's not like when you call for a taxi," Blash said. "It needs to be scheduled. CART does have a (daily route) schedule."
Sometimes, people don't understand the difference, and expect a CART vehicle to show up at their location shortly after a ride request is submitted, according to Nelson.
Green said he's hoping to have a warrant article ready for next spring, so residents can vote on the supplemental ride service at that time.
"We want to put in on the ballot," he said. "These (senior) guys are paying taxes, they're paying for schools when they don't have any school-age children... I think people could give back a little bit and help fund this."
Green indicated that he's heard from some people who doubt the extent of the problem, so he's asking people to contact him through his office phone, 603-432-1100 ext. 168 about the issue.
"I don't care if hundreds of people call me," he said. "I'm tired of people telling me it's not a problem when I'm hearing from so many people that it is."
Ray Carbone can be reached on Twitter @raycarbone_ET. You can read and react to this and other stories at eagletribune.com.