Blue Bus off to good start

WILTON – The Board of Selectmen have named Martha Greene as the town’s representative to the board of Souhegan Valley Transit Collaborative, operators of the “Blue Bus,” the area service for the elderly and disabled provided through Nashua Transit Service.

The pilot program, begun four months ago, “was an excellent start,” Janet Langdell, planning coordinator, told the selectmen on Monday, July 7. “We provided 34 rides,” which is comparable to use in similarly sized towns. It is an excellent start.”

Mont Vernon also joined the service last spring.

Greene, she added, “jumped in with both feet. We are excited to have her on the board.”

Rides are available to those who are unable to drive, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., for $2 each way. Others may use the service if space is available.

Souhegan Valley Rides also serves Amherst, Brookline, Hollis, and Milford. It has been operating since 2008 to provide transportation to non-emergency medical appointments such as physical therapy, dialysis treatments, and counseling, as well as social service agencies, senior centers, pharmacies, and town facilities. Rides to grocery stores are offered twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays.

Asked if the service would continue to the west, Langdell said “conversations are going on” with agencies in Peterborough, Merrimack and Manchester.

Lyndeborough is the point where as many residents use Monadnock Community Hospital as the Nashua facilities, she said. She also noted the number of specialists that are in Manchester, Catholic Medical Center’ cardiology unit, for instance.

“People out there call FISH (Friends in Service Helping) for rides,” a voluntary group, she said.

In fiscal year 2013-14, Souhegan Valley Rides provided 3813 rides.

The service is funded through grants and donations, with Milford Rotary and Wilton Lions Club large contributors by providing match money. Nashua Regional Planning Commission serves as the fiscal agent.

“(Service clubs) don’t like to fund operating costs,” Langdell said. “They like projects. We are so thankful for their support.”

The cost to the town depends on the services used, she said, and she will return to talk “next year’s budget” at the appropriate time.

To register, to schedule a ride, or for more information, call 880-0100, ext. 1, during business hours at least 48 hours in advance.