The study will ask two main questions: Is there a need for more public transit in the Fort Drum area, and if so, how can local governments meet that need without breaking the bank? The group’s executive director Carl McLaughlin says he expects the answer to the first question will be a resounding yes: Fort Drum’s population has increased substantially over the last few years.
And McLaughlin says he expects to find the need goes well beyond soldiers and their families: "A lot of this is being driven by an increased military population, but a lot of the people we’re expecting need this are civilians who would benefit from an enhanced system."
There are some public transit systems already—Watertown has buses, and there’s a volunteer transportation system for getting people to doctor’s appointments and the like. The Arc also operates buses for its clients. But for people those don’t cover, getting to work, the grocery store, or the movies can be a pretty grim prospect.
Local governments can’t afford to start from the ground up—but McLaughlin says it’s the job of the study to see if communities can build on what’s already there, to serve everyone better: "Given resources, and they’re a big issue…is there something available that we could look at or modify or use to help create a better public transportation system."
The study is still in its very early stages—and you can follow its progress at f-d-r-l-o dot org.