Transportation growing

Transportation growing

Established in 1992, the entire history of Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) has been about constant service improvement and expansion. Back then, ACTR worked with less than 10 volunteer drivers, had no vehicles to call its own and provided 4,000 rides through only one program during parttime hours. Now, ACTR has over 30 volunteer drivers, owns twelve vehicles and expects to break 100,000 rides next year through five major programs and a handful of smaller ones, while operating up to 15 hours per day, seven days a week.

Although not serving people on the scale of a major city like Boston or even a small urban center like Burlington to the north, Executive Director Jim Moulton sees ACTR as an agency that is vital to the economic, social and environmental health of the region. “Almost 60 percent of our shuttle riders report using the bus to get to work. That’s a powerful economic number,” he says and one that indicates that money invested in public transit is returned many times over. Because of ACTR, businesses are provided with access to new worker pools, which can be critical to their growth in one of the tightest job markets in Vermont, and many people are able to become gainfully employed taxpayers.

ACTR also has a huge impact on the lives of seniors, persons with disabilities and others who cannot drive themselves. Since only Middlebury, Bristol and Vergennes can support bus service, that usually means they rely on ACTR’s volunteer drivers to get to medical appointments or grocery shopping. States Moulton, “Our volunteers are the backbone of our programs. Although they are not driving in a car with our logo on it, they are still out there at all hours of the day or night, seven days a week. In fact, until just this year, our volunteer drivers have always provided more rides annually than our shuttle bus system.”

Community support for ACTR has also been growing. Non-governmental funding has risen from 12% of ACTR’s operating budget to 19% in the last three years alone. “This has probably been the most gratifying part of working here,” says Moulton. “The towns, businesses and residents of the community have all responded so positively to our efforts – it has been wonderful.” This support has been critical to ACTR’s improved and expanded services.

ACTR’s growth doesn’t look to slow down anytime soon either. This past October, the agency was involved in the launch of two new services – an interregional commuter shuttle linking Middlebury to Burlington and a local shuttle bus to the Middlebury College Snow Bowl ski area. The interregional bus is operated by Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA) of Burlington but ACTR was a key partner in getting the service off the ground and expanded its local shuttles to ensure that riders could connect between systems. The Snow Bowl route has provided residents in the previously underserved towns of East Middlebury and Ripton with new access to jobs and services while greatly expanding recreational access for transitdependent riders in the rest of the county. Both services are already ahead of initial performance targets.

In addition, ACTR is now in preliminary discussions with Marble Valley Regional Transit District, the public transit operator to the south in Rutland, about creating another Route 7 service link. “Currently,” says Moulton, “Middlebury to Rutland is the only portion of Route 7 lacking public transportation service.” The two providers are working closely on the partnership and expect to submit a grant proposal to the Vermont Agency of Transportation in April for service to start in October. Given the success of other recent new starts across the state, both parties are hopeful the route will be funded.

For more information about public transportation in Addison County, call 388-1946 or email info@actr-vt.org.

Copyright Boutin-McQuiston, Inc. Mar 01, 2005

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved