On Tuesday, October 16, 2018 in a Clarkstown workshop meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, Supervisor George Hoehmann and his board skillfully conducted a meeting that largely served as a public hearing open to the more than 100 residents who filled the auditorium, approximately 30 of whom voiced their opinions, pro and con, as to whether the mini-trans system should continue (as currently operated or with modification), or be discontinued to save nearly one million dollars, which was last year’s shortfall in the operation of this unique system.
Supervisor Hoehmann made it very clear during this meeting that the Clarkstown mini-trans system was, indeed, unique, and, in fact, claimed that there were no more than three townships in all of New York State that enjoyed the privilege of having their very own bus system independent of the county in which they were located. Clarkstown was a trailblazer in this respect since their mini-trans system was first established in the 1970s, distinguishing Clarkstown from all other towns in Rockland.
The supervisor further put this large audience at ease by stating that Clarkstown had no intention of abandoning any of the five routes, A, B, C, D, & E, running on the five weekdays as well as on Saturday, but was merely considering trimming down on some of the relatively unused time slots for some of these routes, so that these routes might not run on each and every hour during the day.
Hoehmann claimed that this would reduce the $966,000 current yearly shortfall in running the mini-trans to only a $392,000 shortfall, and that no layoffs of full-time drivers would be required, but retirees would no longer be replaced by new drivers.
The supervisor, in closing the workshop meeting, made it clear to his audience that there would be a follow-up meeting to which all town residents would be invited. This meeting would present the details of a revised timetable for all of these routes, at which time another public hearing would be held, prior to any final action by the town board.
This Ombudsman was most impressed by the supervisor’s observation that the County of Rockland unfairly provided the Town of Ramapo with favorable treatment in the county-subsidized TOR System, enabling Ramapo residents access to inexpensive bus service to shopping malls and other important locations not available to Clarkstown residents seeking the same access from TOR. This issue will be further explored by the Town of Clarkstown, in an attempt to further trim expenses that may now be paid for by the mini-trans system.
In summary, Ombudsman-Alert believes that Supervisor Hoehmann and the Clarkstown Town Board appreciate the transportation needs of the Clarkstown residents, including the senior citizens and disabled residents who no longer drive autos, and will make their best efforts to meet all of those needs.
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