CVU express buses leaving from Allen Brook (2/25/10)

Feb. 25, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The third time’s a charm for the Champlain Valley Union High School express bus.

After changing departure spots twice in less than a week, the Champlain Valley Union High School express bus will now leave from Allen Brook School instead of Town Hall. It’s the newest location officials settled upon after voluntarily leaving Town Hall and discovering that a lot on North Williston Road would not work.

The change occurred Feb. 18. The two express buses will continue to leave by 7:45 a.m. each school day morning.

Originally, buses picked up CVU students at town offices in Williston Village. Vehicles lined up along the Town Hall Annex, in the parking lot next to the Williston Armory. But concerns over traffic backups onto U.S. 2 created concerns with town officials.

Town Manager Rick McGuire asked CVU transportation officials to move the student pick-up from the Annex to behind Town Hall. He said he was surprised to discover the express buses found a new pickup stop altogether.

“I clearly did not ask for (the buses) to be moved,” McGuire said. “Actually, I thought I had a good location picked out.”

Bob Mason, chief operations officer for Chittenden South Supervisory Union, said he “misunderstood” town officials and decided to seek a pickup location away from Town Hall.

On Monday, Feb. 15, CVU express buses collected students at the Williston Recreation Path parking lot, behind Korner Kwik Stop and across from Williston Federated Church.

That lasted three days.

According to Mason, the traffic at the church’s parking lot entrance created a bottleneck of sorts, especially with commuters near the busy intersection of U.S. 2 and North Williston and Oak Hill roads. Also, the Federated Church hosts Rotary Club of Williston-Richmond meetings Thursday mornings at roughly the same time as student pick-up.

“It just became obvious this wasn’t going to work,” Mason said.

Mason said parents can now drop their students off around 7:30 a.m. for bus pickup at Allen Brook. The CVU buses will leave the elementary school before its students arrive for the day, Mason said, therefore avoiding further traffic issues.

“This gets us to a location where we’re not inconveniencing anyone,” he said.

CVU instituted an express bus pilot program in January 2009. The buses became so popular, the high school added a second 84-passenger vehicle to the run. Shelburne also has an express bus and officials are working on a route for Charlotte. Students who do not have classes during the early block generally take the express buses, Mason said.

Initially, buses traveled 20 minutes via Oak Hill Road to CVU when leaving from Town Hall. Now, buses will follow Vermont 2A to Hinesburg. Mason said the busing times should remain the same.

Mason said he heard from a few parents and school officials concerned about the change in pickup locations, but he remains confident that Allen Brook will be the best spot for the long term.