A second Transit District director is sought in the face of impending political obstacles 2023

The Representative Town Meeting Transit Committee will evaluate applicants Tuesday for a second Transit District director.

Sal Liccione of District 9 and committee member Karina Saryani Betfarhad, a civil engineer and PTA leader who relocated to Westport 14 years ago, are seeking appointment.

The committee will advise the RTM, which will appoint.

Despite state law, the Transit District has had only one director for some time.

The Transit District hires drivers and buses from Norwalk Transit District. Director Peter Gold is unpaid. Gold is a Transit Committee and District 5 RTM member. In April 2022, he was reappointed until April 2026.

During its 7:30 p.m. online meeting, the Transit Committee will interview applicants in private. Tuesday,

Betfarhad Karina

“This unique position allows me to seamlessly integrate my professional experience, academic training, and commitment to serving the Westport community,” Betfarhad wrote to the committee.

“I bring a deep understanding of the community’s needs and a genuine commitment to its well-being,” she added.

“I have a B.S. in Civil Engineering from San Jose State University and completed all core engineering classes for an MSCE in Transportation and Structural Engineering,” she said.

I worked as a civil engineer for three major construction companies and the City of San Jose Streets and Traffic Department for a decade. I’ve learned a lot about engineering ideas and practice from these encounters.

Betrarhad said she volunteered in the Westport School District for nine years while raising her three small children.

My involvement is varied. She said, “I believe I can significantly contribute to the Westport Transit District.”

Sal Liccione

Two-term RTM member Liccione noted that he is well-qualified and has worked for town government as a paid employee and volunteer.

“For over a decade I have been an active and well-known public advocate for transit improvements in Westport,” said downtown resident Liccione.

“I am the only elected town official who uses public transit,” he said.

He was also appointed to a Citizen Transit Committee in 2015.

“I served on multiple Westport transit-focused committees,” he stated.

“I am a consistent long-term vocal supporter of bus shelters for public transit users,” he stated.

Liccione said he speaks up even when his views are controversial. He opposed The Hamlet, a huge Saugatuck redevelopment proposal, and criticized transportation transparency.

Transit District struggling

For years, the Transit District contracted with Norwalk Transit District for buses and drivers.

It had to decide whether to stay independent or join with Norwalk or Bridgeport during the town budget season. The Board of Finance slashed its yearly appropriation, but the RTM restored it.

When Norwalk state legislators proposed dissolving the Norwalk Transit District and turning its assets over to the state, that matter became more complicated.

After Norwalk Transit District officials agreed to reevaluate routes and services, that effort was halted.

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