January 22, 2019

Low ridership threatens Williston’s village bus

GMT seeks input on proposed bus service changes

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was submitted by Chapin Kaynor, Williston’s representative on the Green Mountain Transit Board of Commissioners.

Green Mountain Transit (GMT) operates public bus service in northwestern Vermont, including Chittenden County. GMT is developing a NextGen Comprehensive Service Analysis that will improve service throughout the system. The plan will help identify ways to better match service with current needs, make service simpler, more direct, faster and more convenient. This is the first time GMT has conducted a comprehensive effort of this type, and public and stakeholder input is critical to the project’s success.

As this effort nears its conclusion, I’d like to summarize how it might affect Williston. GMT operates three public bus routes in Williston:

 Route 1 runs along U.S. Route 2 from Burlington to Taft Corners and Walmart with regular seven-day service. It is very popular, ranking second in ridership of all GMT routes.

Route 1V serves the village of Williston five times on weekdays.

 Route 10 runs between Williston and Essex Junction hourly on weekdays and Saturdays.

In brief, the NextGen study has identified that:

 Route 1 should run more often.

 Route 1V does not have sufficient ridership and should be discontinued.

 Route 10 should expand hours of service and extend to the Lang Farm shopping center.

Public input has been collected over the past year, and I am reaching out now in case interested readers have not already provided input.

Recommendations will be made and reviewed in May and June, so now is the time to weigh in if you have comments. Thank you to all who have participated to date. The Chittenden County public review meeting will be held June 5 at 9 a.m. at the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission offices in Winooski at 110 West Canal Street, #202.

Discontinuing Route 1V that serves the village of Williston will leave an important part of Williston without bus service. However, its ridership has indeed been low. Have we missed an obstacle to those who live or work in the village (including at Williston Central School)? Is there something that is limiting use of public transit to and from the village of Williston?

One suggestion has been to extend bus service on Route 2 heading east to the Richmond Park & Ride. If bus service to the Richmond Park & Ride appeals to you, I’d like to hear from you.

Another long-term goal is to create a transit center near Taft Corners. At a minimum, this would enable transfer between bus routes, but ideally it would be a multi-modal facility with parking, bike racks and comfort facilities that would encourage more use of public transit by making it more convenient and pleasurable. If you have a suggestion about where this could be sited, please let me know.

We are fortunate to have good public transit in Williston. In addition to providing transportation to those who need it, many people (including me) choose to take the bus and read, talk or browse the internet while moving from one place to another.

Use of public transportation benefits us all — even non-riders — by reducing congestion on the roads and lowering the use of carbon for transportation. This last point will be amplified by the use of electric buses. GMT is ordering four battery-electric buses this year.

I, and those at GMT, hope to hear from you soon. If you have opinions you’d like to share, please come to the June 5 meeting or visit ridegmt.com/study-feedback/. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of that page, you can leave a comment. You can also contact me at ckaynor@ridegmt.com.

See you on the bus!

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