In response to last week’s broadside from a resident of Butterfield Commons against the MOOver, I will set the record straight – again.
Sending a bus there for a specific trip purpose is a clearly-defined “charter trip,” which is prohibited by our federal funding law. We have turned down hundreds of charter requests, and we refuse to expose ourselves to fines, loss of funds, and revoking of our ability to operate for any request no matter how deserving.
Our federally-mandated paratransit policy allows us to travel up to one quarter of a mile off-route to make pickups for ADA-defined disability riders. Butterfield is almost one half mile off-route, and again the law is the law.
Before Butterfield was built, the MOOver told the developer that service to the Commons would have to be funded privately like other new local routes have been funded. We asked the developer to remove advertising which said we would service Butterfield, which they did. We cannot be held responsible for their mistake or its consequences. Running the Route 100 bus up there is a possibility in summer months but not in winter, and we seek other permanent alternatives for them, rather than to give them service in summer and then take away service when they need it most in winter.
We provide five types of service for the elderly at Butterfield as was listed in a previous letter to the editor.
We have proposed to the developer a plan where the DVTA purchases and donates a used conversion van for Butterfield residents. We propose helping to raise funds through charitable organizations for the annual vehicle insurance costs, while asking Butterfield users to pay only for fuel. This is outside our realm of responsibility, but, because we care about and support the mission of Butterfield, we are hoping this plan will come to fruition.
It’s a shame that following the law and not risking almost $1 million in annual federal operating funds is labeled ridiculous. It’s a shame that we are held accountable for someone else’s mistake. It’s a shame to be mocked and challenged publicly while behind the scenes we are working hard to buy a vehicle for them.
As for July Fourth, it was the DVTA who proposed park-and-ride lots in 2000 to keep the fireworks alive in Wilmington. Town officials were not pleased with the traffic congestion and parking problems, but gave us one year to prove ourselves. Here we are nine years later, providing up to 2,000 rides that night to keep the fireworks in the valley.
Oh, and to your comment of “Enjoy your holiday,” please note that I will be driving a bus that day and night like all of our other dedicated staff who also drive on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, Easter Sunday, and every other holiday. This is what our staff does, willingly, just like many other area businesses that support our residents and visitors.
Maybe let’s take the effort spent on public broadsides and turn it into planning with the developer to get the service your community needs.
Randy Schoonmaker, DVTA