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Without a Car in Norfolk? 

Dial-A-Ride is Curb to Curb and Available to Everyone

 

By David Beers

On Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m., a little bus picked me up at my house to take me wherever I wanted to go, whether shopping, dining, medical appointments or any other appointments in northwest Connecticut. The round trip cost was $2.50, regardless of distance or time, and if I were over 60 years old, the ride would have been free. Does this sound too good to be true? I assure you that it is true.

This is the Dial-A-Ride curb to curb, wheelchair accessible, transportation service provided by the Northwestern Connecticut Transit District (nwcttransit.com) to 17 northwestern towns. Norfolk has its own dedicated bus, with its own friendly driver, John Roy. He is available to pick you up at your house between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He does recommend that you call to reserve your ride at least a day in advance at 860-489-2535. Rides are available to Canaan, Winsted, Torrington, Litchfield, Goshen, Sharon, Salisbury or Lakeville. If you need a ride farther than those towns, you will need to schedule that at least a week in advance. Unfortunately, no rides are available to towns in Massachusetts.

Roy picked up both Dee Perron and me on Maple Ave and then Judy and Tom Welch joined us at Meadowbrook. We headed out to Stop & Shop in Canaan, where Perron got out. Then we were off to Torrington to pick up Sally McGinnis at the hospital, where she just had cataract surgery. We dropped the Welches off at Walmart and then back to Norfolk to drop McGinnis and me off at our houses. After that, Roy was heading out to Canaan to get Perron and take her to Walmart, and take the Welches to Panera for lunch. Then they were all headed back to Norfolk, where Roy had one more ride scheduled, to give someone transport to Torrington for shopping. Roy said that this was a typical day for him.

Roy said that he has six dedicated weekly riders that are all seniors. While many of the trips are for shopping, medical appointments are quite common and they take precedent over any other type of ride. Some riders, like Perron, depend on this service because they do not drive. Others, like the Welches, have a car and can drive, but choose not to for a variety of reasons (cost, medical issues, car repairs). And some, like McGinnis, use the service occasionally when they are not able to drive due to car repairs, winter weather or a medical procedure. Roy has also had college students use the service to get to classes at Northwestern Community College in Winsted.

Roy and the other riders all agreed that you need to be flexible and patient with this service. Roy gives out his cell phone number to riders to call him when they are ready to get picked up from their appointments or shopping (or they arrange this in advance). Because Roy loves his job and his riders, he will bend over backwards to provide rides in as timely a manner as possible. However, there will almost inevitably be a wait because Roy needs to drive routes that serve as many as possible as efficiently as possible. The Welches said that they don’t mind waiting a half hour for Roy to get back to them because they love people watching wherever they are.

The Welches gave another reason for riding the bus when they stated, “We want to make sure the bus stays active because it is so important for so many people in town, including those who may not need the service now, but will in the future”. That is me and you!

This is the fifth in a series of short articles about transportation alternatives in Norfolk.

 

Photo, of Tom and Judy Welch with driver John Roy, by David Beers.

 

 

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