Open letter to town Selectboards regarding appointment of CCTA commisioners

During the recent strike at CCTA, a strike which never should have happened, your communities lost three weeks of bus service and thousands of dollars in tax revenue. Unfortunately, a large portion of the responsibility for the strike falls on the outgoing CCTA Board of Commissioners. As the current Chair of the Board of Commissioners said, the strike was brought on by issues which had been brewing for 10 years. The Chair himself sat on the Board for six of those years during which time he could have been instrumental in stopping the disregard and disrespect which contributed to the strike. In short, the strike would not have happened if the Board of Commissioners had taken an active role and directed CCTA management properly.

Calling ourselves the Vermont Community Alliance for Public Transportation (CAPT), we are a fledgling organization that was set up near the end of the CCTA strike to follow up on issues raised during the strike and to help ensure that there is not another strike at CCTA. Our mission statement says, “For the sake of our environment and for the dignity of our providers, Vermonters need to ensure optimal working conditions for drivers and staff and better public transportation options for all our citizens.” To this end, we seek to find ways to equalize the costs of public transportation; to find ways for better representation of all real and potential transit users; and to find ways to reduce unnecessary public transportation spending and focus it on improving service for communities. By providing a link between people in the communities, the CCTA Board of Commissioners, and other planning organizations, as well as working with the drivers, we feel that we can help CCTA in its own stated mission, “to promote and operate safe, convenient, accessible, innovative and sustainable public transportation services in the northwest and central Vermont region that reduce congestion and pollution, encourage transit oriented development and enhance the quality of life for all.”

There is nothing innovative about failing to change long standing poor management practices and allowing them to develop into irresolvable problems, problems which ended in a strike and service interruption for those whom you represent. Safety speaks for itself and was a key driver issue during the strike. Sustainability? If the CCTA Board of Commissioners allows the current environment at CCTA to persist, transit in Vermont will fall into a period of decline and the responsibility for the decline will rest fully with them. The first task CAPT assumed, and one which we are actively involved in, is to work with the members of the CCTA Board of Commissioners to quantify the reasons why the strike occurred and outline ways to correct the problems. To facilitate this, we are encouraging creation of a Board that does not perpetuate the problems at CCTA by doing management’s bidding. CAPT is asking that, as you think about who will represent your town on the CCTA Board of Commissioners, you find someone who will provide a new direction for the Board. That begins by appointing someone who will proactively and equitably address the problems at CCTA, who is strong enough to ask difficult questions of the entrenched leadership and who is willing to act as a liaison between the riders who are citizens of your communities, drivers and management. Once such a board is in place, we are committed to working with all the stakeholders to ensure that CCTA becomes a model transit agency and eventually to expand sustainable public transportation to all of Vermont.

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