It was in 1980 that Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency (CRERPA) director Stan Griemmann began pitching the idea of a transit district to the nine estuary towns. Between 1980 and 1981 the nine towns joined to create the Estuary Transit District, and in May 1981 the board of directors adopted its first by-laws.
Although the district was created in 1981, it only offered service two to three days a week until 1996, when they took over the eastern portion of the Dattco S Route. This route became the Shoreline Shuttle, and would remain the district’s only daily service until 2005.
It was not until 2005 that the district began to take on its current form. The Riverside Shuttle service from Chester to Old Saybrook began, the district began directly operating service after 24 years of contracting out operations, and two Dial-A-Ride routes were added. Then in 2009, Old Saybrook to Middletown service was implemented, and in 2010 Old Saybrook to New London service began.
RiverMPO has been working on a five year transit plan for the region in partnership with the Estuary Transit District and Middletown Area Transit. As part of its transportation program, RiverMPO provides long range planning for the transit districts. This process helps ensure that transit services are match up with town long range plans for new or revitalized commercial districts, housing, incentive housing zones, bikeways, and access to recreation and services.
Over the last ten years, staff has help secure funding for new routes through this planning process and advocates for transit on the location and access to new bus shelters at rail station, on major routes, and near commercial centers.
It is a rewarding task as increased in ridership yields measurable results. From underserved populations that can now access training or education, journey to work for many of the region’s residents, access to medical care for senior residents, the list goes on.