Starting in mid-June, the Port Authority will remove weekend buses on Route 38 Green Tree from Orchard Spring Road in Scott after complaints from residents about traffic and noise.
The plan is to eliminate weekend bus service on Orchard Spring, which has 142 homes and six vacant lots, but to retain the weekday service for now. However, a letter from Ellen M. McLean,Port Authority's CEO, indicated weekday service may be altered to more closely match ridership numbers.
The letter said recent ridership showed "an average of 27-30 riders board and exit on Orchard Spring Road each weekday, and we have identified those trips that have little to no ridership on both weekdays and weekends. Based on our analysis, we believe the best course of action would be to eliminate weekend service along Orchard Spring Road and maintain weekday service but modify the schedule to better align with customer usage."
Ms. McLean added that the changes to the route will begin June 15, which coincides with PAT's procedure to make four regular service adjustments each year.
Last summer, some residents complained that 60 buses use the street between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays, creating noise and parking and livability issues, including the matter of safety for children.
But others pleaded for continued bus service, pointing out the buses provide safe and reliable transportation.
Although officials initially were opposed to any service cuts, commissioners directed the manager on March 13 to request buses be removed from Orchard Spring between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.
"It appears that on the weekends, more children are playing in their yards and therefore safety becomes an issue if the buses travel on Orchard Spring during that time," wrote township manager Denise Fitzgerald in her letter to PAT.
But many residents last fall and again in March objected to any service changes, in part because some people work off-hours or on the weekends. Others said they bought their homes on Orchard Spring because of the bus service.
Jim Ritchie, communications officer for PAT, said, "The key was to maintain service for the people who need it, but try to cut down on the number of trips."
However, Commissioner Bill Wells expressed dissatisfaction with the township's handling of this issue.
"We didn't have a dog in this fight. We should have stayed out of it," he said.
Noting that "enough people cared [about the buses] that they packed several meetings," Mr. Wells was upset because officials had assured residents that they wouldn't touch the subject and it was not listed on the workshop agenda.
And he was unhappy that fellow board members decided to become involved at a meeting he could not attend because of a death in the family.
"The first meeting I miss, they turn around and they did what they wanted," he said.
But Commissioner Craig Stephens, who represents the ward for Orchard Spring, expressed hope that the plan will satisfy all concerned residents.
"I think all along they were trying to reach some sort of compromise," he said, adding that additional public buses will be available at several locations on Greentree Road.
"Hopefully, when this is implemented in June, the people who rely on the buses will not be affected," he said.
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.