By Keith Regan, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Selectmen have asked the Council on Aging to again revise a report on the transportation service needs of the town’s senior citizens, continuing a saga that began nearly a year ago at Town Meeting.
Senior Center Director Alma DeManche expressed frustration at being asked to revise the report for a second time. The group first filed a report with the board in February, then a follow-up in July.
“I wish we had known some of these questions in the first place, or even the second place,” she said. “All we had to work off initially was the warrant article.”
Voters last fall ordered the report to be prepared while debating whether to add more van drivers to the Council on Aging’s in-town service.
In a memo, Town Manager Jim Malloy outlined some of the items the board wants included in the final report, including concrete goals that can be measured, now due before the end of this calendar year.
Malloy also recounted the results of his own survey of area communities, which found that Westborough provides a fairly high level of service, with 57 hours weekly of point-to-point transportation. The town’s 50-cent fare to ride the senior bus is also among the lowest, with other communities averaging $1.25 to $2 per ride.
DeManche said some of the new information is already available while other items are not possible to complete. For instance, she noted she is barred by her position from requesting advertising or other commercial support for the vans.
The board also wants a breakdown of whether some services could better be provided by the Worcester Regional Transit Authority, which handles out-of-town trips for some communities.
Selectmen sought to assure the dozen or so members of the Council on Aging and other seniors on hand at the meeting Sept. 9 that the WRTA is not being seen as a replacement for locally owned and operated services.
“It’s just one option we are looking at,” said Selectman Ian Johnson.