Transportation officials say several new bus routes will help restore service between locations in Vermont and a number of regional cities.
The new routes start up early next year. One will carry passengers between Burlington and Albany, N.Y. with stops in Rutland and Bennington.
Another will run between Rutland and White River Junction and a third will travel from White River to Springfield, Mass.
Intercity busses once stopped at locations throughout Vermont, but by last year there were just a handful of stops and parts of the state had no service at all. It wasn't hard to find companies to pick up the new routes.
“We had interest from pretty much every regional provider, we had some local providers that were interested, and then we had some people who didn’t actually do public transit, like Premier Coach who were very interested in getting into the business, so we’re pretty excited about the response,” says Barbara Donovan, public transit administer for the Agency of Transportation.
Premier Coach of Milton, which is charter bus company, will carry passengers on the Burlington and Rutland routes. Greyhound will operate the bus from White River to Springfield, Mass.
Donovan says a $400,000 federal subsidy will help make the routes profitable for the companies for the first few years while ridership builds. The state will also subsidize the routes with an amount yet to be determined but likely less than $50,000 over three years.
Initially the busses will run once a day. Donovan says there’s demand from many people for the service.
“Colleges being a big one, seasonal services being another, and just people who choose to live without a car,” she says. “They want mobility and they want to be able to go and access the rest of the world, and the rest of the world wants to come here.”
Donovan says the state plans to open a second round of requests for proposals from bus companies interested in operating routes from the Northeast Kingdom and southern Vermont.