Norwalk State Delegation Tables Proposal to Dissolve the Norwalk Transit District

Proposed legislation to dissolve the Norwalk Transit District has been put on hold at least for a year.

Norwalk State Delegation Tables Proposal to Dissolve the Norwalk Transit District
A look at one of the Norwalk Transit District buses. (Photo by Kelly Prinz)

Proposed legislation to dissolve the Norwalk Transit District has been put on hold by the legislators who introduced it earlier this session.

A few months ago, at the start of the legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, who represents Norwalk, introduced legislation to dissolve the Norwalk Transit District, along with other members of the Norwalk state delegation including Representatives Lucy Dathan, Dominique Johnson, Kadeem Roberts, and Travis Simms.

“After numerous conversations with representatives of the Norwalk Transit District, we will be putting a hold on our proposed legislation to dissolve the Norwalk Transit District and merge the services into the operations of the Connecticut Department of Transportation,” a joint statement from the legislators reads. “These discussions have resulted in a number of promised changes which we believe, if implemented, will result in better services for the residents who rely on our local public transportation.”

Impact on the Norwalk Transit District

More than one million rides have been taken on Norwalk Transit District buses, vans, and shuttles from July 1, 2022 through February of this year. The legislation would have impacted who provided those rides and there were questions as to whether or not  all of the current services could continue to be offered.

The proposed dissolving of the district wouldn’t have just affected Norwalk, as the district provides service to multiple communities including:

  • Fixed route bus service in Norwalk, with one route that extends into Wilton
  • A fixed route partnership with the Greater Bridgeport and Milford Transit Districts to operate the Coastal Link bus service seven days a week between Norwalk and Milford
  • Microtransit, called Wheels2U, in both Norwalk and Westport, where residents can request a van to come pick them up during certain hours—morning and afternoon service to the train station in Westport throughout the week; and evening and weekend service in Norwalk Thursday through Sunday.
  • Commuter shuttles in Greenwich and Norwalk

The district also has a new CEO, Matt Pentz, who took over at the start of 2023. Pentz previously said that he wanted to enhance the work of the district, by strengthening partnerships with the city and exploring new ways of providing public transportation.

“When I look at local transit, I look to where we can enhance [multimodal transportation]; reach different parts of the city, first and last mile [transportation], and see if we can reach the schools a little better,” he said,

He also said that he’d like the transit district to be more involved with the city, particularly with discussions surrounding many new housing developments.

“We want to be their partners and we want to make sure there’s a solution that works for everybody,” Pentz said. “We move a lot of people—over a million riders on the fixed route system. Our priority is our ridership and our customers.”

He also cited a need for the district to review its routes and services—something that hadn’t been done in a while, which was one of the main complaints of the legislators.

The district is planning to work with Nelson Nygaard, a transportation consulting company, to perform a comprehensive operational analysis of the Norwalk Transit District.

The legislators said in their statement that they’ll be reviewing the district’s work over the next year.

“We will be watching the actions of the Norwalk Transit District and listening to riders over the next year to determine the progress of the district,” the statement said.

The language to dissolve the district became part of a larger bill, Senate Bill 904, which passed the Transportation Committee on March 17, and is currently before the State Senate awaiting action. That bill contains several legislative priorities, including traffic safety measures, and so when it comes up for action, the section on dissolving the district will have to be removed.

Check out our previous coverage of the Norwalk Transit District: